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Letter from the Chair

I am very pleased to introduce the new format of PoliSci Connection, the magazine for friends and supporters of the University of Minnesota Political Science Department. Until now, PoliSci Connection was a departmental newsletter, capably managed by our undergraduate advisor, Rose Miskowiec. We have upgraded the newsletter to a magazine, now containing professionally written articles about the research and teaching of departmental personnel, as well as in-depth reports on select experiences of Political Science students.

Political Science has long been one of the jewels of the University of Minnesota. The small and highly selective Ph.D. program is a source of pride, as a number of its graduates go on to especially distinguished careers. Many of Minnesota’s Political Science faculty members are award-winning teachers, and all are strongly committed to providing the very best in undergraduate and graduate education. In 2007-08 alone, two faculty members received major teaching awards, adding to an already impressive list. The research of our faculty, too, is at the cutting edge, helping to define the state of knowledge on crucial themes across the discipline. Significant awards to faculty in just the past year ranged from induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, to publication of prize-winning books and articles, to receiving prestigious national and international fellowships, to appointment to named professorial positions.

PoliSci Connection highlights a few, but certainly not all, of the exciting developments in this department. Toward the end of the magazine, we report specific awards and accolades of faculty, staff, students, and alumni. My regret is that we do not have adequate space to do justice in reporting these—and other—wonderful achievements. Most of the content of the magazine is taken up, however, with articles on specific themes and people. Due to the national excitement about the 2008 elections in the United States, and because of the expertise of several of our faculty and graduate students in the analysis of electoral behavior, we chose to devote a couple of articles to the elections. One of these pieces highlights the excellent work of faculty affiliated with the program in political psychology, which has a distinguished national reputation for productively bridging those two disciplines. In the other, Assistant Professor Kathryn Pearson uses her expertise on the U.S. Congress to assess the chances of real policy change after the election. The remaining articles give a small hint of the range of other kinds of goings-on in this department, including a conference on international relations theory, the creative field research of a graduate student, Jonneke Koomen, on human rights, and the formative experiences of one of our undergraduate students, Tim Schuster, in internships in the U.S. and abroad.

The excellence of the Political Science Department at Minnesota is due substantially to the generosity of its supporters. Promoting the cutting-edge research of outstanding faculty, enabling the creative research of exceptional graduate students, and fostering life-transforming experiences for undergraduates are all made possible by the support of benefactors and donors. In that light, it is noteworthy that the A.I. Johnson Scholarship made possible Tim Schuster’s ‘education’, and that Jonneke Koomen’s graduate studies were supported in part by a Marbury Efimenco Fellowship. It is entirely fitting that the final article in this issue of PoliSci Connection is about Dr. N. Marbury Efimenco, a distinguished alumnus whose great generosity has meant so much for the excellence of the graduate program in Political Science.

Thank you for your continued interest in and support for Minnesota’s Political Science Department. I look forward to hearing your responses to this issue of PoliSci Connection. Future issues will continue in this format to report some of the great features of this department. Please share your views about the magazine with me at rduvall@umn.edu. Please also visit our departmental website at www.polisci.umn.edu for ongoing news and updates.