After extensive searches to fill empty posts, Penn's Political Science Department has made two major additions to its American Politics sector. Yale Professor Rogers Smith, who specializes in constitutional law and American political thought, will leave New Haven to become Penn's Christopher Browne Professor of Political Science. Smith's wife, Mary Summers, will also leave Yale to become a senior lecturer in Penn's Fox Leadership Program. The recruitment of Smith and Summers comes on the heels of the fall hirings of two assistant professors in an attempt to rebuild the embattled department, which has been beset by faculty departures and retirements over the past few years. Smith said he hopes his move will encourage professors from other universities to follow suit. "There has been some reluctance on the part of political scientists to come to Penn out of concern that institution building efforts might not get off the ground," Smith said. "It was pretty much a matter of somebody making the first move." Political Science Department Chairman Jack Nagel said the addition of these professors, along with the possible addition of two more senior faculty for the fall, will help ease the burden of future recruitment. Nagel echoed Smith's sentiment, noting that his hiring will hopefully attract even more professors to the department. "I think it's going to be a very positive thing, both in the direct impact he will have in recruitment and in the indirect influence," Nagel said. Smith said he is looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead of him at Penn. "At this point in my career, it's exciting to have the opportunity to help build a stronger Political Science Department at a university with so many resources," Smith said. School of Arts and Sciences Dean Samuel Preston said the University first became interested in Smith four years ago when he served on a committee which evaluated the status of the Political Science Department. Preston said it was not until a year and half ago that Penn began actively recruiting the senior professor. "It's been an intense courtship," Preston said. "He's an outstanding teacher, someone who is very committed to teaching." Smith is currently the co-director of the Institute for Social and Policy Studies Center for the Study of Race, Inequality and Politics at Yale. Nagel said Penn's interaction with West Philadelphia was a major draw for both Smith and Summers. "One of the biggest attractions of them to Penn is Penn's commitment to the city." Smith agreed with Nagel, citing community interaction as one of the major influences in his decision. "One of Penn's strengths is that it has various programs in which scholars interact with community groups," Smith said. Nagel said Smith will fill some of Penn's needs in the American Politics sector. "He is really a major scholar in the work that he's done," Nagel said. "Our priority has been in American Politics, and this is a major appointment." Smith's 1997 book Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history. He has been awarded Rockefeller and American Council of Learned Societies fellowships. Penn Political Science Professor Anne Norton said Smith's arrival will provide strength to a department that is in need of reinforcements. "Rogers is one of the scholars who has brought race into the mainstream discourse in Political Science," said Norton, a friend of Smith's. "We now have a very strong cluster of people in American Politics which will make the department that much more attractive," she added. Nagel said Summers would most likely teach one undergraduate course in the fall, in either political science or history.Comments powered by Disqus
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