City Council Member Speaks to SWIPS
On Tuesday November 12, City Council Member Dr. Joca Marquez spoke to Supporting Women in Political Science (SWIPS). During . . .
Poli Sci Film Series Packs Teaching Theater
In connection with the Common Experience theme, "Truth," the fall showing in Discourse in Democracy's Political Science Film Series was The Insider . . .
DiD Hosts Pulitzer Prize Winning Reporter
On Tuesday evening, November 12th, 150 attended a lecture in Alkek Teaching Theater by the New York Times’ Tom Ricks, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. Ricks’ talk . . .
Semester News, Continued
The Texas State Model United Nations (MUN) team participated in UT-San Antonio’s Model United Nations Competition from November 1st – 3rd. Competing for Texas State were Amanda Beck, Jasper McDonald, Bryan Reines, Christian Sears, and Kaela Thompson. Texas State students won two of the four awards given at there: Amanda won the Most Ruthless Delegate Award representing the Islamic Republic of Iran, while Christian won the Best Delegate Award representing the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Over 120 students from around the state participated in the competition.
On Thursday, November 7th, MPA student Samantha Martinez attended the WLG (Women Leading Government) Central Texas chapter meeting in her capacity as the chapter's new "student liaison." To kick-off the "lunch and learn," former Texas State MPA student and current City Secretary in Rollingwood, Ashley Waymen, presented her research findings from her Applied Research Paper on women in city management. The presentation helped guide the discussion among the women who shared their experiences in local government. Attendees included Wendy Smith the President of the chapter and City Manager for The Hills, Stacey Pfefferkorn, VP of the chapter and Management Analyst in the City of Round Rock, Laura Calcote, Secretary/Treasurer of the chapter and City Secretary/Municipal Court Clerk for the City of Wimberley, and Stephanie Reyes, Interim Assistant City Manager for the City of San Marcos. The experience was a "great way to network with women who have been in my shoes," Samantha observed, adding that she "looks forward to networking with more women leading government."
On Wednesday, November 4th, Texas State’s ICMA student chapter hosted a talk by Mr. Jared Werner, the Finance Director for the City of New Braunfels. He discussed how he ended up in his current position, highlighting the important role that good mentors have played in his career. For those beginning their careers, he emphasized the importance of flexibility and versatility.
Mr. Werner discussed the growing importance of the MPA degrees to professional success and the growing importance of local government in today’s more urbanized world.
His presentation was concluded with questions from audience members which focused on the importance of forecasting and long-term financial planning in budgeting and the changing role of human resources departments.
Dr. Joshua Blank, the Research Director of The Texas Politics Project, was on campus on Tuesday, October 29th to speak to Dr. Lamm’s Congress class and one of Prof. Henderson’s sections of Principles of American Government. The Texas Politics Project provides research, internships, and events available to the public for the purpose of education, civic engagement, and general interest. Blank discussed internship opportunities and polling. Topics included the various reasons for polling and how the wording of a question can affect the results. Samantha Martinez, a political science student, commented that Dr. Blank’s presentation was "especially helpful to students doing research."
On Monday, October 28th, the department hosted an Inklings gathering featuring Dr. Marc Wallace who gave a talk on “Governmental Technology and the Diversion of Prescription Drugs.” His talk focused on drug use, abuse and misuse, anti-drug programs and enforcement, and Texas’ effort to manage the opioid crisis. The talk was followed by a discussion with a dozen faculty and graduate students in attendance. Amy Fanguy-White, a political science graduate student who attended, was surprised to learn that “two billion dollars are lost to fraudulent use of prescription medications yearly in the State of Texas” and that there was little federal oversight.
The department’s “Inklings” gatherings take their name from a small group of intellectuals (whose ranks included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis) who met weekly at Oxford University in the early and middle decades of the 20th century to read aloud and discuss their works in progress.
On Tuesday, October 10th, the department’s BPA & MPA Programs sponsored a seminar entitled “From Rotterdam to San Marcos: Building Resilience Through Street Design,” exploring how our streets and cities can be adapted to make them more effective in managing water, promoting safety and mitigating climate change. The event included presentations by Texas State’s Dr. Billy Fields and Liliane Geerling of the Delta Academy at HZ University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands. Among the topics explored was how the city of Rotterdam had integrated their green infrastructure with active transportation planning through projects and policy.
A graduate student in the MPA program, Samantha Martinez, noted that the event was, “insightful because it highlighted an alternative approach to street design” and added she “appreciated the discussion on policy projects involving public space.” Braden Kropp, a senior majoring public administration concluded that “we, as Americans, can learn a lot from other countries around the world about how to better address the problems in society.” Michael Tahmoressi, a grad student in communications, said that the seminar “demonstrated how infrastructure design reflects cultural values.” Tahmoressi, who participated in a study abroad in the Netherlands that Dr. Fields directed last summer, hopes to return to the Netherlands to continue his studies in the future.
From September 26-28, Brittany West, a political science major at Texas State, was one of 35 students from around the nation who attended the Action Institute in Dallas on The Cost of Cronyism: Economic, Legal and Moral Implications. Other schools whose students attended included Texas A&M, Rice, UT-Dallas, Georgia State and Dallas Baptist and Duke. Brittany explained that although she had “no background in economics,” the speakers “laid out the foundation so well” that, she “was able to follow along and gain an understanding.” The conference, she said, broadened her horizons and helped her better understand contemporary American politics. Speakers included Dr. Hunter Baker, Professor of Political Science at Union University, Dr. Anne Bradley, VP of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics, and Dr. Samuel Gregg, Research Director at Action Institute.
On Tuesday, October 15th, the department’s Department Master of Public Administration Program hosted an Ordinance Development Workshop taught by Texas State’s City Manager in Residence, James Earp.
More than seventy-five students attended the event at which Earp, the Assistant City Manager of Kyle, walked attendees through the process of crafting a local ordinance and viewed examples of real ordinances from Kyle. Topics discussed included the differences between legislation and local ordinances, codification, and the ordinance adoption process. Michael Cook, a senior majoring in public administration, described the workshop as “informative,” saying that it “provided students with a great deal of insight into policy formation at the local level.”. Cook added that Mr. Earp made the learning experience “easy and relatable.” A political science graduate student, Anthony Armendariz, praised Earp’s presentation saying that it “provided great insight into the inner workings of government.”
Dr. H. W. Perry, Jr., a University Distinguished Teaching Professor at UT-Austin who holds a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Law visited Texas State on October 7th to deliver a Discourse in Democracy lecture.
Entitled “Deciding to Decide: How the U.S. Supreme Court Selects Its Cases,” his lecture explored how the U.S. Supreme Court selects the roughly 75-80 cases it chooses to hear each year from the tens of thousands of appeals that it receives each year. His lecture drew on his book Deciding to Decide: Agenda Setting in the United States Supreme Court. This volume has won many awards including the Wilson Prize of the Board of Syndics of Harvard University Press, the Pritchett Award for the best book in Public Law from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association. The lecture was attended by more than 400 students and faculty members. The lecture was followed by questions and discussion, after which students huddled around Professor Perry to extend the conversation for almost an hour.
Prior to the lecture, Dr. Perry presided at a seminar for two dozen political science undergraduate and graduate majors and faculty members, as well as a dinner at Palmer’s attended by eight political science undergraduate students. The seminar focused on the “The Elitification of the U.S. Supreme Court” and explored how most cases before the Supreme Court are argued by an increasingly small pool of appellate lawyers who mostly have Ivy League educations and have clerked for former justices.
The Rho Eta Chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society held its first meeting of the semester on Wednesday, October 2nd. President Mayra de Luna outlined three upcoming activities: First, in late October, Pi Sigma Alpha plans to host a free LSAT prep exam. Second, it will also be hosting a Halloween party. Third, they’re planning a trip to visit the Texas Capitol.
If you are interested in joining Pi Sigma Alpha or want more information on it, please e-mail Dr. Varacalli at email@example.com
Four undergraduate poli sci majors (Austin Lyttle, Isabel Lozoya, Zulma Castelan Balbuena, and Sabra Woodward) and two political science graduate students (Robert Wilson and Julio Rodriguez) attended the fifth Texas Network for the Study of Public Issues, hosted by the American Public Philosophy Institute at the University of Dallas from Friday, September 27-Saturday, September 28.
The seminar centered on the contemporary debates concerning legal and illegal immigration. Speakers included Paul Hunker, the Chief Counsel for the Dallas Immigration and Custom Enforcement, who provided a summary of United States federal law and an overview of ICE’s responsibilities; Liz Cedillo-Pereira, the Chief of Equity and Inclusion for the City of Dallas, who addressed the positive contributions of immigration; and Kevin Roberts, the Executive Director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, who praised immigration but condemned illegal immigration. Other presenters included James F. Hollifield of Southern Methodist University, Kevin Stuart of the Austin Institute, Christopher Wolfe of the University of Dallas, and Susan Hanssen of the University of Dallas. More than forty students attended representing a variety of universities from around the state including the University of Texas at Austin, Baylor University, Southern Methodist University, Houston Baptist University, the University of St. Thomas (Houston), and Tarleton State University. Dr. Thomas Varacalli was the faculty chaperone for the event. If you are interested in attending future TNPSI events, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MPA student Samantha Martinez was chosen to represent Texas State as a social media ambassador at the annual Texas Tribune Festival. Held in downtown Austin from September 26th-28th, the panels and talks explored a wide range of topics including public education, international relations, and various public policy issues. It also offered the students an opportunity to hear from several presidential candidates including Beto O’Rourke, Julian Castro, and Pete Buttigieg. The festival’s keynote address was delivered by the former CIA officer and current U.S. representative for Texas’s 23rd congressional district, Will Hurd. Speakers included the recently elected Mayor of Dallas, Eric Johnson; Mayor of Austin, Steve Adler; Comptroller Glenn Hegar; Secretary of State for California, Alex Padilla; former U.S. National Security Advisor, Susan Rice; former White House Communications Director, Jennifer Palmieri. The closing keynote was delivered by Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
Since she aspires to someday be a city manager, Martinez focused on events that she “felt could really benefit my knowledge in local government.” She explained that the festival really enabled her “to learn a substantial amount on current issues facing all levels of government.”
In connection with Texas State University’s Common Experience themed event, the Department of Political Science hosted two panel discussions about the Flint, Michigan water crisis for the university community. The first event, “Refining Environmental Racism: The Flint Example” featured MPA alumnae Holly Doyle, who presented updated results from her honors thesis (Bad Water, Dirty Politics: Contrasting Governmental Responses to Two U.S. Water Crises). Specifically, her analysis compared the public sector’s response to water crises in Milwaukee and Flint. Dr. Dianne Rahm, a professor in the department’s public administration program and Holly’s thesis chair, fielded questions with Holly from the 85 attendees. The audience expressed concerns about the health status of Flint residents, the efforts to replace old contaminated pipes in thousands of homes, and the ongoing legal battle to obtain justice for Flint residents.
The second panel discussion, “Echoes of Flint: Water Quality Threats to Texas Cities”, explored the water crises within the Lone Star state. The 75 attendees heard from three panelists: Amy Hardberger, J.D., associate provost of St. Mary’s University School of Law; Jenna Walker of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment; and Christopher Brown, J.D., associate professor in the political science department. The panelists focused on federal regulations, state implementation of water quality efforts, and the importance of an informed citizenry to monitor water quality within their respective communities.
Jazmin Pantoja, an M.A. in Legal Studies student, felt the panel alerted her alarmed her to the need to "pay attention to what's going on with our water sources, adding that" She added she "water quality and contamination are tied to many different factors such as infrastructure, climate change and natural disasters, inadequate technology, etc."
On Tuesday, September 24th, the department hosted the first Inklings gathering of the semester. Dr. Fanziska Boehme gave a talk on “A Resurgence of the Right? A Deeper Look at Changing German Politics.” Her talk focused on the ways in in which German politics has been changed by the rise of the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland, (Alternative for Germany) party. The talk was followed by a discussion with the two dozen faculty and graduate students in attendance.
The department’s “Inklings” gatherings take their name from a small group of intellectuals (whose ranks included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis) who met weekly at Oxford University in the early and middle decades of the 20th century to read aloud and discuss their works in progress.
On Tuesday, September 17th, Supporting Women in Political Science (SWIPS) held their first meeting of the semester. The meeting gave the members a chance to introduce themselves and explore their interests and backgrounds. President Marliza A. Marin shared an article about the achievements of Hispanic women in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. They also went over the mandatory Risk Management Powerpoint mandated by the university.
For more information on SWIPS please contact Dr. Jennifer Lamm at email@example.com.
On Tuesday, September 17th more than 300 Texas State students and faculty attended the department’s annual “Constitution Day” lecture hosted by Discourse in Democracy. Delivered by the University of Virginia’s Dr. James W. Ceaser, the lecture explored “James Madison: The Founder of the Modern Founding.” William Lawrence, a first-year master’s student in political science noted the lecture was, “refreshing” saying that he appreciated Ceasar’s “defense of our Constitution.” The lecture was followed by questions, and, after the formal program concluded, several students stayed behind to talk informally with Dr. Ceaser. Jean-Marc Pruit, a graduate student in the department, commented that “Dr. Ceaser reminds us that although deadlock can be frustrating, Madison was right that hasty change can be much worse.”
Prior to the lecture, a group of a dozen students and faculty met informally with Dr. Ceasar over dinner. Earlier that day, Dr. Ceasar conducted a seminar attended by 15 majors examining the evolution of America’s political institutions and how the U.S. Constitution compared to others. Austin Lyttle, a senior political science major, noted that he really enjoyed “the opportunity to get know Dr. Ceasar, as a person” adding that it “makes me all the more impressed with the academic prowess” he displayed.
Dr. Ceasar’s books include Presidential Selection: Theory and Development, Liberal Democracy and Political Science, and Nature and History in American Political Development. The department’s Constitution Day activities were made possible by a generous grant from the Jack Miller Center for Teaching America’s Founding Principles and History. Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is an American federal observance recognizing the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become United States citizens by birth or naturalization.
Political science majors Nicholas James, Austin Lyttle, and Victoria Collazo attended the 2019 Texas Chapters Conference of the Federalist Society on September 14, 2019 at the AT&T Conference Center in Austin, TX. The conference included academic panels on Texas Judicial Selection, Nationwide Injunctions, and Election Security. The speakers included Chief Justice Nathan Hecht of the Supreme Court of Texas, Texas Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins, and United States Assistant Attorney General Beth Williams. Senator Ted Cruz delivered the luncheon address. Nicholas James, a political science junior, stated, “The conference exposed me to legal questions that I had not previously considered.” Over two hundred lawyers, judges, public officials, and students were in attendance. Students from Baylor Law School, St. Mary’s Law School, Southern Methodist Law School, Texas Tech Law School, and Texas Wesleyan Law School were present.
On Friday, September 13th, the Graduate College hosted a “Roads to Research Grad Coffee Chat” for a casual conversation with outstanding graduate students. The two panelists were Brandon Elliot of the Master of Public Administration program and Connor Nielsen of the Master of Fine Art’s program. Brandon went to Texas State as as an undergrad majoring in public administration and received his MPA here in the spring of 2019. He noted he, "hopes to change San Marcos for the better." He discussed how his focus in graduate studies was on urban design regarding transportation, mainly bicycle infrastructure. He talked about the mentoring he received from our MPA faculty, especially from Dr. Rangarajan who helped guide him through his Applied Research Paper. Brandon highlighted the flexibility of the MPA program for those who work and the support he received as a full-time student. He spoke about how he was able to balance both work and school because of his work in the department as an instructional assistant. Being an IA gave him the opportunity to grow and get to know faculty on campus. Brandon explained that he felt professors like Dr. Hanks, helped prepare him for the real world after graduating whom he also had the opportunity to have as both an undergraduate and graduate student.
Students were able to ask questions to the panelists regarding their experience as a master's student at Texas State. Brandon discussed the challenges of transitioning into the graduate program after graduating with his bachelor's degree from Texas State. He emphasized how imperative it was to stay organized and do all the required reading for classes. He also noted the scholarships available to students not only through the Graduate College but also through the Department of Political Science, and how helpful they can be with supporting a second degree.
Both panelists also elaborated on the methodology they chose and explained why it most benefited them most according to their program. Additionally, they discussed the advantages of Texas State compared with other graduate programs, particularly because of the many guest speakers brought in to share their experience and expertise with the students. Attendees were able to mingle and connect with the panelists at the conclusion of the event.
On Tuesday, September 10th, an estimated more than 150 students and faculty attended the department’s annual “Meet Your Professors” event sponsored by Discourse in Democracy. This event gives political science and public administration majors the opportunity to meet and talk with the department’s faculty. The two dozen faculty members present each spoke briefly to the attendees. After introductions, students and faculty were able to mingle informally while over pizza. Political Science student organizations such as Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, SWIPS (Supporting Women in Political Science), and ICMA (International City/County Management Association) were also present and distributed information about their organizations.
Senior public administration major, James Tichy observed that, “attending Meet the Professor was a great way to learn more about my professors outside of the classroom setting.” He added that, “it also allowed me to meet other professors from the department with whom I haven't yet taken classes, but whose projects and backgrounds really interested me.” Matthew Gonzales, a junior majoring in political science agreed, noting that the event showed him that “the entirety of the department wants you to find your home there.” He added that the department has so many resources to use and organizations to join I feel it's going to be hard for me to not get the support I'm looking for."
Students attended received Discourse in Democracy tee shorts, departmental caps, and assorted other swag.
On Tuesday, September 10th, Richard Castanon, a Partnership Specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau for the San Antonio-Austin region, visited campus to speak students from Dr. Lamm’s Congress and Political Parties classes and a section of Professor Henderson’s Functions of American Government course. As
a a partnershipspecialist for the bureau, he is responsible for partnering with local government and civic organizations to maximize participation in the 2020 Census.
He spoke about
theprocess of participating in the census, how to access information on the area, and the various uses to which the data is put. The talk was followed by a question and answer session with Mr. Richard Castanon. he
Political Science junior, Jonathan Koening, described the talk as “informative” and added that it was “fascinating to learn about all the areas in which census information is used.” Students had the opportunity to ask questions and learn why college students play an important role in collecting data for the census.
Dr. Pat Shields was recently elected to the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA). NAPA was founded by James E. Webb, then-administrator of NASA, and other leading public administration practitioners in 1967 and was chartered by Congress. Webb’s impetus in forming the Academy was to create an organization that would provide independent, nonpartisan and neutral advice to government leaders and agencies on all levels of government about emerging trends in governance and public administration. It is one of the two organizations (the other being the National Academy of Sciences) chartered by Congress in this manner.
The academy’s studies are directed by a group of over 850 peer-elected fellows. Fellows includes former cabinet officers, Members of Congress, governors, mayors, and state legislators, as well as prominent scholars, business executives, and public administrators. The fellows are responsible for establishing the organization's policies and priorities and serving as advisers on panels convened for each study.
Election to the National Academy is one of the highest honors for those engaged in the study or practice of public administration. Dr. Shields is one of 29 fellows from Texas.
For more information, visit: https://www.napawash.org/about-us/who-we-are/.
On Friday, August 30th and Saturday, August 31st, students from the political science department and members of the International City/County Management Association participated in an Economic Impact Survey for the City of Kyle. Samantha Martinez, an MPA student who attended noted that “it was a great experience to interact with city staff and residents from Kyle and surrounding areas." Samantha was a recent intern for the city of Kyle and helped work on an analysis of the city's annual surveys over the last five years. “Participating in the distribution of the survey gave me the opportunity to view relevant topics regarding the satisfaction of the residents and how the responses have changed over time," she continued. Students from the Master’s of Engineering program and Sustainability Program were in attendance including four international students from Bangladesh who were happy to experience the culture of central Texas.
The Department of Political Science is saddened to announce the passing of a long-time member of its faculty, Dr. Alfred B. Sullivan. Dr. Sullivan received his doctorate in political science from the University of Utah in 1967. He joined the faculty of Texas State’s Department of Political Science in 1970 and retired in 2012. At Texas State, he was the founder of the Foreign Studies Committee, serving as its Chairman from 1972-1987. Dr. Sullivan was named an Outstanding Educator of America in 1972 and received the university’s “Outstanding Professors” in 1973. During his decades at Texas State, he taught a wide range of courses in political science, including the Government and Politics of Asia, the Government, and Politics of Europe, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Constitutional Law, Principles of American Government, Texas Politics and the American Presidency. His legendary wit caused him to be widely sought out as a speaker and emcee at public events. Outside of the university, he managed several campaigns for both local and county elections. His publications include Government in Texas and Texas Government Today, which he co-authored with another long-time member of the Texas State faculty, Dr. Randall W. Bland. His career in academia was preceded by a long and distinguished career in the United States Navy in the course of which he served as Director of the Naval Leadership School and the personal pilot of General Mark Clark who served as commander of the United Nations forces in Korea in 1952. He retired from the Navy in 1967 with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
Three members of the department’s faculty were recognized by Dean Mary Brennan at the College of Liberal Arts’ Fall Faculty Meeting on Tuesday, August 20th.
Dean Brennan presented a Presidential Distinction Award for Service to Dr. Sherri Mora. A senior lecturer in the department, Dr. Mora currently serves as the department’s associate chair and undergraduate coordinator. Dean Brenna also presented College Achievement Awards to Dr. Diane Rahm and Dr. Nandhini Rangarajan. Dr. Rahm, a professor who teaches in the department’s public administration program, was recognized for her scholarship. Dr. Rangarajan, an associate professor, and director of the department’s Master’s in Public Administration Program was recognized for her service.
Texas State’s College of Liberal Arts includes the departments of Anthropology, English, Geography, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and World Languages & Literatures, as wells as Centers for International Studies, Diversity and Gender Studies, and the Study of the Southwest.
From May 26-June 6, political science major Kevin Brown, flew to Brazil to take part in a study abroad program. While there, he had the opportunity to watch a court case involving drug trafficking and to visit juvenile detention facilities in Belo Horizonte where teenagers there were taught trades such as basket weaving and basic computer word processing in order to help them transition back into society. Additionally, Kevin had a chance to play soccer and have lunch with Brazilian soccer players from the Curitiba soccer team on the world-famous Copacabana beach.
“This Texas State study abroad experience truly helped me broaden my worldview,” he said. He went on to express his gratitude to the Department of Political Science for its “generosity” in providing the scholarship funds that made his participation in the study abroad possible.
Once Kevin graduates from the ROTC program at Texas State University, he will be commissioned as a second lieutenant on active duty in the United States Army and hopes to be a Foreign Area Officer focused on South America.
The Department of Political Science Hosts Mediators from the Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi in Mexico.
On August 19-24, 2019, The Department of Political Science hosted a group of Mexican mediators for a special course entitled "Collaborative Law, Victim-Offender Mediation, and Family Mediation in Texas." During their stay, the mediators visited three Texas Dispute Resolution Centers, the Supreme Court of Texas, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, a juvenile detention center in Austin, and historic courthouses in San Marcos, Kerrville, and Fredricksburg. Dr. Walter Wright was the lead instructor for the course, and his Mexican counterpart was Mtra. Aracely Rojas, an adjunct professor at the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí, the Mexican university that co-sponsored the course.