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College of Arts and Sciences

Dean's Blog

How Faculty Reputation Helps Students

November 26, 2013

By: Mary Anne Fitzpatrick

One of the aspects of my life I am most thankful for this holiday season is the quality of the faculty we have in the College. Many are new rising stars in their disciplines but one has been here for over 40 years:  Professor Donald Fowler.

It is possible (albeit not probable) that there is someone reading this blog who does not know Don Fowler. Don has been a force in the national Democratic Party politics and has also been an important figure in the overall political life of this State for 40 years. He has been an exemplar of civic service and civic leadership in the broadest (and non-partisan) sense, serving a wide range of public officials, organizations and institutions – nationally and internationally.

Don is respected and has been honored for his work across political parties – with many of his most devoted fans currently holding office as Republicans. Many of these people got their first analyses of politics – including practical politics – in courses taught by Don. In addition, he has also served on international bodies that acted as election observers in Costa Rica, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Kosovo, and Russia.

Given his national and international reputation, it is no surprise that Don has been able to bring to campus leading figures in print and television journlism.  Last week, Jeff Zeleny spent the day on campus talking with students in two of Don’s classes. Jeff Zeleny, former New York Times and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, is the Senior Washington correspondent for ABC.

I attended the second class of the day where 75 students had the opportunity to visit with Jeff Zeleny. Zeleny began with a low-key discussion of why he left the New York Times for ABC news and how he saw media changing. He then demonstrated how key journalists (or talented college professors) draw students out about their opinions.  He reminded students that the job of a journalist is to “understand” what is happening in politics – all of the issues and complexities surrounding power and policy.

Jeff and the other leading media figures spent time in our classrooms because of faculty like Don Fowler.

We have much to be thankful for.