Message from Section President

Terry Gilmour, Midland College,

This essay was originally published in the Political Science Educator’s Fall 2020 series.

Dear Section:

My last update was right before the Teaching and Learning Conference in Albuquerque in February of this year.  Wow!  How our lives and our profession have changed since that time.  Many of us are still reeling from the aftershocks of the COVID-19 Pandemic and working toward navigating this new environment in which we find ourselves.

In September, we held the “virtual” annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.  First, I want to thank APSA for putting together an amazing conference with very few glitches.  For a conference of this size, that is nothing short of a miracle.

The Political Science Section business meeting was held on Friday evening with good attendance.  I want to thank Maureen Feeley and Matthew Platt (2020 Program Chairs) for all of their hard work in putting together an outstanding selection of panels, workshops and roundtables and being able to switch gears so late in the planning process.  There were over 700 who registered for the Teaching and Learning Conference at APSA this year!  Co-chairs Jyl Josephson and Amber Dickinson along with their committee (Marcus Allen, Megan Becker, Bethany Blackstone, Josh Franco and Robert Glover) also did an outstanding job after having to change course in the middle of planning to put together a great day of learning for all of us.  Mark Carl Rom and Rachel Bzostek Walker have agreed to serve as the 2021 Program Chairs and let’s hope that we are all in Seattle in person for that conference.

The highlight of the meeting was the presentation of our awards.

The following were the recipients:

Craig L. Brians Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research & Mentoring – Emily Sydnor from Southwestern University, Shamira Gelbman from Wabash University, Michael Binder from the University of North Florida, and Malliga Och from Idaho State University.

APSA Best Conference Paper 2019 – Renee Van Vechten and Maureen Feeley for their paper “Wither the Political Science Major?  A Cross Institutional Analysis of Curricular Design and Program Learning Outcomes at 110 Colleges and Universities”

Distinguished Service Award – Alison Rios Millett McCartney

Lifetime Achievement Award – E. Fletcher McClellan

Congratulations to all of these award winners.  We extend our thanks to Donald Gooch for his service on the executive board and we welcome Cherie Strachan to the board.  The meeting ended with some words from John Ishiyama, incoming President-Elect to APSA Council.  And we also congratulate Michelle Deardorff who will be serving as Vice President to APSA Council.  And finally, congratulations to Erin Richards who received the 2020 APSA Community College Faculty Award.  What an awesome section we have!

With all of the upheaval of 2020, I would like to reflect on some of the positives.  There were three roundtables/panels devoted to rethinking the Political Science major and how our discipline has responded to the COVID-19 crisis during the APSA Conference.  It appears that we have learned more than we thought possible – we have moved classes online and we have responded to the needs of our students.  We have adjusted and embraced this new technology that has been forced upon us.  We have been given the time to rethink not only how we teach, but what we need to teach.  Higher education may have changed, but I firmly believe that we will emerge from this pandemic stronger and better.


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