Awards, Accolades & Updates

Emeritus Professor Charles Backstrom (1926--2008)
Just as this magazine was going to print, the Department of Political Science received word that one of our faculty members, Emeritus Professor Charles Backstrom, passed away on September 4. A kind and generous person, a tireless servant of the University, and a noteworthy scholar of survey research, election polling, and reapportionment, Professor Backstrom was a pillar of this department from 1959 until his retirement in 1997. Among his lasting contributions, he created and for 25 years supervised the department's legislative internship program. In 1987, he was the first recipient of the University's newly created John Tate Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising. In recognition of Professor Backstrom's contributions, Leonard Robbins, a former student and collaborator, created the Charles Backstrom Scholarship which we award to some of our best undergraduates. He was also instrumental in creating the Judge Earl and Mrs. Cecill Larson Scholarship which supports undergraduate research. Professor Backstrom's passing is a loss to this department, this university, and the larger community. More information about Charles Backstrom can be found on our department's web site at


Assistant Professor Elizabeth Beaumont received the 2008-2010 McKnight Land-Grant Professorship. McKnight Land-Grant Professors are junior faculty members who show exceptional potential in their fields of research. The award provides a two-year research grant as well as a one-year research leave.

Professor John Freeman was one of eight University of Minnesota faculty members selected for this year's Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate Education. Recipients are selected for their engagement of graduate students in intellectual inquiry; excellence in teaching; involvement of their students in research, scholarship and professional development; as well as advising and mentoring.

Assistant Professor Jane Gingrich was awarded the Max Weber Fellowship by the European University Institute in Florence. Gingrich will spend the 2008--2009 academic year conducting research in Italy.

Assistant Professor Lisa Hilbink is co-winner of the Herbert Jacob Prize for her book, Judges Beyond Politics in Dictatorship and Democracy. The Jacob Prize is awarded biennially by the Law and Society Association for the best book of new, outstanding work in law and society scholarship.

Associate Professor Tim Johnson won a Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award. This award is the University's highest recognition of faculty members for outstanding teaching, advising, and mentoring of undergraduate students.

Professor Robert Kvavik, Associate Vice President for Planning, has been knighted. He was awarded the First Knight of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit by King Harald V. Kvavik received this honor for his research on Norway and for promoting collaboration as well as student and faculty exchanges between the United States and Norway.

Assistant Professor Kathryn Pearson won the CQ Prize for the best paper in the Legislative Studies Section of the 2007 APSA annual meeting. Pearson also received the Heinz Eulau Award given annually by the APSA for the best article in Perspectives on Politics.

Associate Professor Martin W. Sampson III received a 2008 President's Award for Outstanding Service. This award is presented each year to recognize exceptional service and unusual commitment to the University of Minnesota community.

Regents Professor Kathryn Sikkink has been awarded a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Sikkink was one of four political scientists in the country to receive the fellowship which will allow her to complete a book on the origins and effects of human rights trials.

Associate Professor Dara Strolovich's recent book, Affirmative Advocacy, won three awards. Strolovich received the 2008 Leon Epstein award from the APSA section on political organization and parties. She received the 2008 Distinguished Contributions to Scholarship Book Award from the American Sociological Association's section on race, gender and class. Lastly, she received the 2008 Gladys M. Kammerer Award for the best book in the field of U.S. national policy.

Regents Professor John Sullivan was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, established in 1780 to honor influential thinkers and leaders who address critical social and intellectual issues, foster public engagement and the exchange of ideas, as well as mentor a new generation of scholars.

Professor Wendy Rahn started a non-profit organization, Survivors' Training (, focusing on issues of cancer survivorship, after her own cancer diagnosis in late 2006. The organization has been featured in the nonprofit Twin Cities newspaper MinnPost, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, WCCO-TV news, Fox 9 news and in the upcoming national magazine, Health (December 2008).

Assistant Professor Antonio Vázquez - Arroyo, who accepted a tenure-track position in the Department of Political Science, joined the faculty in fall 2008. He earned a Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2004 and was assistant professor at VPI. His research and teaching interests are in political theory

Congratulations to the Department of Political Science's newly tenured associate professors: Teri Caraway, Kathleen Collins, Paul Goren, Ron Krebs and Dara Strolovich.


Cheryl Rackner Olsen, Assistant to the Chair in the Department of Political Science, received a 2007 Outstanding Service Award which honors University of Minnesota employees "who have gone beyond consistent high performance to make innovations and outstanding contributions to enhance the objectives of their departments, the college, the University and/or higher education."


Dana Adams received an NSF dissertation research support grant.

Angela Bos has won the award for the best dissertation in the social and behavioral sciences from the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota.

Serena Laws received a Horowitz Social Policy Grant to help her in completing early stage dissertation research.

Giovanni Mantilla was awarded an Upper Human Rights Fellowship Grant by the University of Minnesota's Human Rights Center.

Alina Oxendine received the Best Dissertation Award from the International Society of Political Psychology for her dissertation, "Inequality and Isolation."

The following students have received Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships for the 2008--2009 school year: Arjun Chowdhury, Serena Laws, Jennifer Lobasz, Kjersten Nelson, Aaron Rapport, Eve Ringsmuth, and Jennifer Rutledge.


Robert Goldaris was the Department of Political Science's student delegate at the U.S. Air Force Academy Conference in Colorado Springs. This year's assembly, the 50th annual, focused on combating terrorism in the 21st Century. At the end of the four-day conference, participants produced a written consensus that was forwarded to Congress and the Pentagon.

Jarrod Karcher-Ramos received the 2008 President's Student Leadership and Service Award and Alumni Association Student Leadership award.

Alyssa Kroeten worked for CBS as an intern during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. She received the opportunity through her spring semester internship at WCCO Radio, where she had already gained practical experience related to both of her majors--political science and journalism.

Hannah Lussier was one of 12 recipients selected for the 2008 Morris K. Udall Native American Congressional Internship Program, a competitive, fully supported summer internship program in Washington, D.C. Lussier is a junior majoring in Political Science and minoring in American Indian Studies.

Tom Snyder, a double major in global studies and political science, received a Critical Languages Scholarship for intensive study of Chinese language in Harbin, China this summer.
Molly Tolzmann represented the Department of Political Science at the 59th Student Conference on United States Affairs at West Point in New York. The conference brings together students, scholars and policy experts from around the world. Students discuss international issues, meet fellow students who are interested in similar topics, and experience life at West Point.


Anna Abbey (B.A. 2003) recently served in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua. She lived in a rural village, Santo Tomas del Norte, where she worked with youth, reproductive health education, and community development. Next, she plans to earn a masters degree in either international public administration or sustainable development.

Leila Babaeva (B.A. 2005) enrolled at Georgetown University Law School's evening program and continues her work as a policy analyst at Families USA. At Families USA, she is involved in launching a global health initiative that aims to increase research spending on diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries.

Asim Dorovic (B.A. 2005) accepted a position as advisor to the minister of affairs (equivalent to the U.S. Secretary of State) with the foreign affairs department in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Ayten Gundogdu (Ph.D. 2007) accepted a tenure-track position in political theory at Barnard College/Columbia University.

Allison Kadlec (Ph.D. 2004) received the Distinguished Graduate Student Award from the Department of Political Science for her public engagement work with Public Agenda and her scholarly publications in political theory.

Clarence (Jasen) Peterson (B.A. 2004) earned a masters degree in international affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and then joined the U.S. Army Reserves, where he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Military Intelligence Branch. He is currently a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State. Peterson works in the U.S. Embassy's reconstruction and stabilization office in Beirut, Lebanon.

Thomas Rudolph (Ph.D. 2001) received the Distinguished Graduate Student Award from the Department of Political Science as an emerging leader nationally in the field of American politics.

Carrie Booth Walling (Ph.D. 2006) was awarded a three-year postdoctoral fellowship by the Society of Fellows at the University of Michigan. The fellowship includes an appointment as an assistant professor at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


A reception held last October honored the career of Professor Emeritus Frank J. Sorauf and thanked the generous donors who contributed to the fellowship in his name. Two of Frank's former advisees and the founders of the fellowship, Wally Hilke and Stephen Ansolabehere, talked about Frank's influence on their lives and careers. Frank's friend and colleague, Professor Phil Shively, also spoke. (These three are pictured here together with Frank.)

Donors met the first recipient of the award, Michael Julius, and the good will of the night continued into the months after--our fundraising goal for the fellowship was met! Thank you to all of the generous donors who made this fund possible.

For more pictures from the night as well as information on the fund, please visit:



Powered by Movable Type 4.31-en

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by cla published on November 14, 2008 12:55 PM.

A wild guess was the previous entry in this blog.

Opening Doors is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.