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Spring 2019 Archive

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  • Howard Balanoff

    Dr. Howard Balanoff, a professor with the Department of Political Science and Public Administration program as well as director of the William P. Hobby Center for Public Service and Texas Certified Public Manager (CPM) program, is the 2019 recipient of the International City/County Management Association’s (ICMA) Academic Award in Memory of Stephen B. Sweeney. This award recognizes a classroom instructor who has made a significant contribution to the formal education of students pursuing careers in local government.

    Receiving his Ed.D. from Texas A&M University, Dr. Balanoff has been teaching at Texas State University for over 40 years. He’s served on numerous boards and committees including within the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), the Texas City Management Association (TCMA), and the National Certified Public Manager (CPM) Consortium. Along with numerous lectures and presentations, his books include Public Policy and Administration and Strategic Public Management (co-author). He holds the William P. Hobby Professorship and is the Texas State faculty advisor for Pi Alpha Alpha, the international honor society for Public Affairs and Administration, founded by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

    ICMA is the leading organization of local government professionals dedicated to creating and sustaining thriving communities throughout the world.

    Read the full article here.

    ICMA logo

  • Amy Perry

    Amy Perry, a lecturer in the Department of Political Science and academic advisor with PACE, was awarded the 2018-2019 Sun Belt Conference Professor of the Year award.

    A graduate of Texas State, Perry received a B.A. in Political Science in 2015 and her M.A. in Political Science in 2017. She was received a “Favorite Professor” award in the Spring 2019 semester from the Texas State chapter of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society. “Professor Perry is one of the most caring and inspiring teachers I have ever had,” observed one volleyball player, “she puts her student’s education before anything and allows for a fun learning environment. If all college professors were like her then everyone would enjoy their college experience.” A football player noted that “she is always there anytime I need her…To make a long story short, she is like a second mom to me and my girlfriend which says a lot.”

  • Faculty and Centex President MPA Students

    Texas State public administration students, along with students from the University of Texas’ LBJ School of Public Affairs and Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service, were among the honorees at the annual  Public Service Recognition Week Banquet sponsored by the Centex Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) on June 3rd.

    Two Texas State MPA students were recipients of the James W. McGrew Research Award for outstanding graduate student research: Jill Montalvo, whose research was supervised by Dr. Hassan Tajalli, was recognized for her Applied Research Project (APR) entitled “Closing the Gap: Impact of Minority Teachers on Minority Students’ Academic Performance.” Ashley Wayman, whose research was supervised by Dr. Patricia Shields, was recognized for her Applied Research Project (APR) on “Female Assistant City Managers and Department Directors in Texas Cities.”

    Scholarship winners

    Additionally, eight Texas State MPA students were recognized for receiving scholarships awarded by the families of William P. Hobby, former Texas Lt. Governor, Dr. Frank Rich, former Chair of Texas State’s Department of Political Science, and Dr. Howard Balanoff, a long-time member of Texas State’s public administration faculty. The students recognized were:

    Melissa Bell
    Ayodamola Olanipekun
    Cameron Scott
    Immanuel Tan
    Justin Villa
    Jennifer Whitcomb
    Janice Perez
    Corey Young

    New Pi Alpha Alpha Members

    Finally, the banquet included the induction of nine Texas State students into Pi Alpha Alpha, the Global Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration:

    Immanuel Tan Zhen Miin                             
    Marcus D. Peoples, Jr.                                               
    Yvette Patricia Mendoza                                          
    Jordan Karimi                                                
    Carlos Lamkin                                                           
    Ayodamola Olanipekun O                                         
    Erica Mooney                                                
    Corey Banks                                                                                      
    Kristin Fritscher

    James Earp Accepting award

    Centex ASPA’s Public Administrator of the Year Award, was presented to James Earp, Assistant City Manager of Kyle and Texas State’s City-Manager-in Residence.

    “Centex ASPA was honored to recognize central Texas students, public administrators, and educators for their achievements in public service and research at the 2019 Public Service Awards Banquet, said Elaine M. Zavala, President of Centex ASPA. “Public servants deserve our thanks for working diligently on behalf of every citizen.”

  • Dr. Rangarajan accepting her award

    On June 3, 2019, at its annual Public Service Recognition Week Banquet, the Centex Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) presented its prestigious Educator of the Year Award to Texas State’s Dr. Nandhini Rangarajan. Dr. Rangarajan received her Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Albany in 2005 and joined Texas State’s faculty the following fall. She is the co-author of A Playbook for Research Methods: Integrating Conceptual Frameworks and Project Management (with Patricia Shields), and her articles have appeared in a variety of journals including the Journal of Public Affairs Education, Public Performance and Management Review, and the Review of Public Personnel Administration. She was promoted to the rank of associate professor in 2013 and since 2017 has directed the department’s MPA Program.

    Over 100 students, administrators and faculty attended this year’s dinner which was held at the Austin Club.

  • SWIPS Logo

    Supporting Women in Political Science held its first elections on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. The outgoing President, Brianah Rodriguez, and the outgoing Treasurer, Victoria Faz, were congratulated on their upcoming graduation.  The new executive board for the 2019-2020 academic year is:

    President: Ashlyn Scott
    Vice-President: Marliza Marin
    Secretary: Isabel Lozoya

    The position of Treasurer and Social Media Coordinator are still vacant, anyone interested in those positions can contact the new President, Ashlyn Scott, directly or through the SWIPS email at

    Ashlyn Scott noted that “We have some neat ideas that we would like to see come to fruition in the fall. We want to see this organization grow with the incoming class of freshman and provide more resources for networking and professional development for members and students interested in this field."

  • Students honored at ceremony with Pi Sigma Alpha president Faculty and Doug Miller at the ceremony

    Texas State’s Rho Eta chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, held its annual induction ceremony on Saturday, May 4 at Blue Dahlia Bistro in San Marcos. Mayra de Luna, Pi Sigma Alpha president, was the master of ceremonies where nine students were inducted into the honor society and five received graduation cords. The Honorable Doug Miller, a former Texas legislator and former New Braunfels mayor , was the guest speaker. Over thirty people were in attendance including Professors Varacalli, Tajalli, DeSoto, Hindson, and Henderson who represented the department. Rex Wyatt, Pi Sigma Alpha vice president stated, “I was thrilled with the turnout of our annual PSA induction ceremony. The Texas State political science department is comprised of a dedicated faculty, outstanding students, and an environment that fosters achievement. Pi Sigma Alpha continues to expand on the Texas State campus and I am thankful to be a part of such an outstanding and driven organization.”

    If you are interested in joining Pi Sigma Alpha in the Fall, please contact Dr. Varacalli at

    Doug Miller at ceremony Pi Sigma Alpha president and vice president


  • Cache and Dr. Brennan holding certificate Atticus and Dr. Brennan holding certificate

    Two political science majors were among the six award winners at the College of Liberal Arts’ first annual Undergraduate Research Expo. Atticus Finch won second place for his talk on “Sovereign Immunity in the Early Republic.” Cache Douglas won second place for her poster presentation on African-American voting. Majors Patrick Moloney and Alondra Saucedo were also among those selected to present posters.

    Patrick next to his poster presentation Alondra next to her poster presentation

    Cache Douglas described the expo as “an amazing experience” and added that “hearing the array of research topics was exciting and very informative.” She particularly thanked the department’s Dr. Hyun Yun and Associate Dean Aimee Roundtree for their assistance and encouragement.

    “I think there’s something validating about presenting months’ worth of research to an engaged, interested, and well-informed audience,” observed Atticus Finch. “That’s a good feeling to cap off the end of my undergraduate career and start my transition to law school (UT Law – Hook ‘Em Horns!). My favorite part was definitely taking audience questions – it really showed just how interested the audience was.”

    The purpose of the expo was to showcase the research accomplishments of the college’s undergraduate students.

  • CoLA awards Introduction Political Science awardees

    Dean Mary Brennan presided at the annual College of Liberal Arts Awards Ceremony in the JCK Reed Parr Room on Wednesday evening, April 24. Our department’s majors were well represented among the awardees, including a special presentation honoring public administration junior, Belinda Atta, winner of the 2019 Newman Civic Fellowship. Also honored was Samantha Armbruster, the Newman Civic Fellowship Community Mentor.

    The following is a list of our students who were recognized at the ceremony:

    Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award in Political Science

    • Atticus Finch

    Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Political Science

    • Emmanuel Tan

    Academic Excellence Certificate Awardees

    Kevin Brown
    Rachel Burns
    Joshua Chandler
    Casey Clark
    Erin Elliott
    Hannah El-Sheikh
    Victoria Faz
    Atticus Finch
    Keely Freund
    Ana Gonzalez
    Kaylie Hidalgo

    Breanna Higgins
    Jean Lambeth
    Diana Marin
    Juan Martinez
    Taylor Mayo
    Amanda Miller
    Benjamin Miller
    Brandon Milligan
    Patrick Moloney
    Evan Olszewski
    Aaron Plumlee

    Annabelle Rodriguez
    Dylan Russell
    Jose Sanchez
    Brenda Sarabia
    Alexis Shears
    Monica Suarez
    Jordan Villarreal
    Theodore Warner
    Tara Watson
    Claire Whisler
    Rex Wyatt


    Newman Fellowship winner Fellowship winner receiving recognition honor

    2019 Newman Civic Fellow:

    • Belinda Atta

    Newman Civic Fellowship Community Mentor:

    • Samantha Armbruster

    Dan Farlow Scholarship – Honors a longtime political science faculty member and Piper Professor:

    • Juan Martinez

    Howard M. “Prof” Greene Award – Academic excellence in honor of a political mentor to Lyndon B. Johnson and other Texas State alumni:

    • Diana Marin
    • Theodore Warner
    • Tara Watson

    Richard B. Henderson Award – Awarded for academic excellence and character in the tradition of Distinguished Professor Emeritus Henderson:

    • Jose Sanchez

    Barney and Linda Knight Scholarship – Awarded to students majoring in political science or business who have persevered in the face of adversity, overcome financial challenges, and demonstrated academic success:

    • Kiersten Edgeston
    • Juan Martinez
    • Brandi Mitchell
    • Kara Rust

    Walter Richter Scholarship – Awarded to full-time students majoring in Political Science or Journalism demonstrating academic merit:

    • Michael Stanley Clarke
  • Comptroller Hegar speaking to students and faculty Students and faculty listening to Comptroller Hegar

    On Monday, April 15th, Texas’ Comptroller of Public Accounts, Glenn Hegar, spoke to almost 100 Texas State students and faculty about the role of the comptroller’s office and Texas’ continuing economic growth. Comptroller Hegar was introduced by Dr. Mary Brennan, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and afterwards met with individual students to address their questions about his office, the Legacy Fund, and careers in public administration.

    Dean Brennan introducing Comptroller Hegar Comptroller Hegar speaking with students after the lecture

    Undergraduate public administration major James Rogan described Comptroller Hegar’s lecture as “very informative” and observed that he “especially liked the way Comptroller Hegar described his interactions with his department heads to ensure the state’s fiscal health.” MPA student Samantha Martinez noted that she particularly liked the chance to interact with the Comptroller.

    Associate Chair Mora, Chair Grasso, Comptroller Hegar, and Professor Wallace

    This event was sponsored by Discourse in Democracy and coordinated by Dr. Marc Wallace of the department’s Public Administration Program.

  • Students Prep for TNSPI Dr. Bagnulo at the TNSPI meeting

    On April 12-13, Texas State students attended the spring meeting of the Texas Network for the Study of Public Issues (TNSPI) for undergraduate and graduate students at Baylor University in Waco, TX. The students participated in discussions about economic inequality and also heard a variety of speakers on the topic about its causes and consequences. The Texas State students attending were Ronald Clark, Adam Henley, Austin Lyttle, Evan Olszewski and Sabra Woodward. Texas State’s Dr. Ashleen Menchaca-Bagnulo was one of the speakers. Her remarks focused on race and inequality.

    “I am thankful to have participated this spring in the TNSPI Conference at Baylor University,” observed graduate student Adam Henley. “We students heard great presentations from almost a dozen professors and were led by yet other great professors in discussion groups where we dug deeper into the content. I believe that student participation in TNSPI events will have a lasting impact for the good in our lives in ways that cannot be easily estimated.” He particularly mentioned  the opportunities it created “to begin or continue professional relationships with other students and professors”

    The event was attended by 60 students from around the state representing  a variety of institutions including Baylor, the University of St. Thomas, SMU, the University of Dallas, Houston Baptist University, and UT-Austin.

  • On April 11, the Department of Political Science hosted Dr. Andrea Hilkovitz, Research Coordinator with Texas State’s Graduate College, and Cheyenne Izaguirre, political science graduate student. Dr. Hilkovitz gave a presentation about the Boren Scholarship and Fellowship programs, which promote long-term linguistic and cultural immersion opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students who will focus on geographic areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security.

    Ms. Izaguirre presented information on the U.S. Department of State’s Pathways Program in which the State Department trains and hires undergraduates, graduate students, and veterans for long-term career opportunities.

    Henry Greive , a political science graduate student, observed that “the presentation was very helpful” because it provided him “a great amount of information about some valuable opportunities” that he was “previously unaware of.”

    To learn more about these programs, please visit:

    Boren Fellowship:
    Pathways Program:

  • Roberts Speaking to Political Science Students Roberts speaks to history students

    On Wednesday, April 10th and Thursday, April 11th, the Departments of Political Science and History hosted a visit to campus by Andrew Roberts. One of the world’s most famous historians, Roberts is a Visiting Professor at the War Studies Department of King’s College, London and the Lehrman Institute Distinguished Lecturer at the New York Historical Society. His thirteen books include Hitler and Churchill; A History of the English-speaking Peoples Since 1900; Masters and Commanders: How Roosevelt, Churchill, Alan Brooke and Marshall Won the War in the West; and now his single-volume biography, Churchill: Walking with Destiny, which reached No 8 in the New York Times bestseller list and which has been described in reviews in the Wall Street Journal, Sunday Times of London, and New York Times as the best single-volume life of Churchill ever written.

    Andrew Roberts poses with history students

    On Wednesday evening, Roberts spoke to over 250 students in Alkek Teaching Theater about the life, character and achievements of Winston Churchill. The next morning Roberts spoke to political science majors about the Second World War. Prior to his lecture, Roberts had dinner with students and faculty members from the two departments. President Trauth and Provost Gene Bourgeois joined the students and faculty for the dinner and lecture, as did former speaker of the Texas House, Tom Craddick, and his wife, Nadine.

    Senior political science major Evan Olszewski described the lecture and dinner as “spectacular” and his “favorite event on campus so far.” Talking with Prof. Roberts at dinner was incredible because I got to see firsthand his enthusiasm for Churchill and the discoveries he made in his research. His presentation on Churchill was great and you could tell he had absolutely encyclopedic knowledge about the man as well as his political context from the stories he told. I was surprised to hear he was the first historian to be allowed to use King George VIII’s journals for his research and was especially glad he took my question about using them.” Likewise, senior William Manning observed  that “Prof. Roberts was also a very easy and relaxed person to speak with personally. He took the time to inquire about my studies and interests.”

  • Steven Peña

    On Wednesday, April 10 ,distinguished alumnus Steven Peña, Senior Professor of Law and Practitioner-in-Residence at St. Mary’s University, spoke with Dr. Varacalli’s Constitutional Law: Individual Liberties (PS 3333) class about his experience as a lawyer and the importance of the rule of law. He encouraged students, particularly those who are first-generation college students, to not only think about attending law school, but to challenge themselves to be politically involved and attentive to local government. Mr. Peña also met informally over lunch with four political science students – Christian Sears, Vanessa Diaz, Francis Santos, and Jamie Aceves – who are planning to attend law school.

  • Empathy Photo

    On April 8th, the department hosted a lecture by Dr. Bethany Bear Hebbard, Community Corps Director at Austin’s Community First Village. Entitled "Fighting as Friends: Language, Empathy, and Dissent," the lecture drew on Dr. Hebbard’s experiences in both the academic world and the sphere of advocacy to highlight the importance of empathy when approaching our society. She also provided practical methods and applications of empathy that students can use at home, on campus, or in any type of social or political interaction. Her lecture was followed by a panel featuring Dr. Elizabeth Skerpan-Wheeler (English), Dr. Eduardo Schmidt Passos (Political Science), Dr. Vince Bagnulo (Philosophy), and Dr. Leah Renold (History). Each panelist drew on his or her own discipline to explore how the nature of empathy is understood and how it helps them better understand the people and things they research. The department wishes to thank Sabra Woodward, one of our undergraduate majors, for her work in organizing the event.

  • ICMA logo

    On April 3rd, the Texas State student chapter of The International City/County Managers Association (ICMA) held their monthly meeting. The meeting focused on the upcoming Texas City Management Association (TCMA) state conference. Texas State will have a team participating in TCMA's inaugural annual Intercollegiate Bowl held June 27-29 at the state conference in Ft. Worth. The Intercollegiate Bowl is a competition that focuses on issues of local governments and how student’s address those issues. The competition will challenge students and practitioners in Public Administration concerning their knowledge, skills, and abilities to address topical issues in local government. More information on the competition can be found here.

    The meeting also focused on plans for upcoming Fall 2019 semester.

  • Students at ELGL, speaking with local professionals

    On April 2nd, in partnership with the Urban Management Assistants of Central Texas, the Public Administration Program hosted its first Engaging Local Government Leaders event. Bringing together city managers from Kyle, Austin Police’s Assistant Chief, San Marcos’ Parks and Recreation manager, and a host of other local leaders, the ELGL Inspire event connected students with current state and city employees. Students networked with speakers over lunch and had the opportunity to learn about strategies for finding public service jobs, as well as the key skills and abilities employers look for. A panel led by Dr. Nandhini Rangarajan, director of the Master of Public Administration program, Mr. Scott Sellers, city manager for the city of Kyle, and Mr. James Earp, assistant city manager for Kyle, answered questions attendees had and spoke on the importance of making a difference in local communities. Public administration graduate student Brandon Elliott was happy “to see all the different avenues [he] could take in local government,” and “felt validated in [his] choice to pursue a career in the public sector.”

  • McClay 2

    McClay 1


    On Thursday April 4th and Friday April 5th, Discourse in Democracy hosted Dr. Wilfred McClay of the University of Oklahoma. More than a 150 students and faculty attended his Thursday evening lecture on “The Tocquevillean Moment… and Ours.” The lecture explored the importance of universities and the dangers of social media in the light of Tocqueville’s concerns about pathologies to which democratic societies are prone.

    McClay 3

    In addition to the lecture itself, Dr. McClay conducted a seminar on “How to Think About Patriotism” attended by 25 undergraduates, graduates students and faculty members. The seminar explored two varieties of universalism and nationalism, and America’s experience with patriotism. He also spoke to a section of Basic Political Institutions (PS 3301) and joined students and faculty for dinner and lunch.

    Political science graduate student Damilola Asaye noted that she “particularly enjoyed the seminar as I was able to hear different ideas students had about the speaker’s article and really helped me get a better idea about what patriotism really entails. I like how the department creates a friendly environment for students and gives them the opportunity interact on a regular basis with professors.”

  • SWIPS students visiting UT SWIPS Student visiting UT Law school

    On April 2nd, several members of Supporting Women in Political Science (SWIPS) toured the University of Texas at Austin Law school. They also sat in on a Civil Procedure class and learned about all of the various programs that UT-Law has to offer.

    SWIPS also held a regular meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, where members discussed the upcoming nominations for elections and several potential events for the fall semester. Announcements for elections will take place on Tuesday, April 16th and elections will follow at the last meeting of the semester on April 30th. Both meetings will be at 7 p.m. in UAC 428.

    For more information please contact

  • Painting eggs

    Alter celebrating Norouz and spring


    Dr. Tajalli with Norouz hosts

    On March 29th, the International Office and the Departments of Political Science and Geography sponsored a Persian New Year celebration, Norouz. The Persian new year starts on the first day of spring and is celebrated by many nationalities in the Middle East, Central Asia, East Asia, Black Sea Basin, Balkans and the Caucuses. With its Zoroastrian origin, the celebration of Norouz has been taking place for 3,000 years. In 2010, the United Nations recognized Norouz as one of the world’s cultural heritages. More than fifty students, faculty and staff attended.

    Attendees at Norouz celebration

    Attendees at Norouz celebration


    Caligraphist at Norouz celebration
  • Students show off their hard won awards

    The Political Science Department's Model United Nations (MUN) program won several awards at the Southern Regional Model United Nations ( SRMUN ) in Charlotte, NC from March 27th – 30th. The SRMUN competition consisted of 600 competitors, representing 70 institutions, including Clemson University, Auburn University, the University of Central Florida, and Wake Forest University.  Participating students were able to debate a host of important global issues ranging from the challenges of eliminating forced labor to preventing violent extremism by non-state actors.

    Kaela Thompson won ‘Best Delegate’ in her committee, G-77, a committee consisting of 150 students. Kaela’s ‘Best Delegate’ award is the first individual award for Texas State at a Model UN competition. Our students also won two team awards: Representing the Republic of Costa Rica, Alex Cox, Christian Sears, Allison Cason, Zoe Steiner, Darian Bear, and Kaylie Hidalgo won ‘Honorable Delegation’ recognition. Representing the Republic of El Salvador, Natalie Hernandez, Haley Schmidt, Anthony Chavez, Kaela Thompson, and Fernando Mendoza also won ‘Honorable Delegation’ recognition.

    Students conversing during the competition Students researching on computers during competition

    MUN president and political science senior, Christian Sears described Charlotte as “an absolutely rewarding experience.” He noted that although “we were not assigned powerful countries . . . the knowledge and willpower to take control of committee resulted in one of the best performances I have ever seen of a Texas State Model UN.  I was incredibly proud to see that our delegates were leaders in the committees they served and the quality of the performance was shown in the awards that our team earned as a whole.” Political science freshman, Kaela Thompson observed that “the Charlotte experience gave me a lot of insight into how the United Nations works and allowed me to learn how to better work with those in a diplomatic setting.” Similarly, international studies junior, Natalie Hernandez remarked that “going to the SRMUN conference was an incredibly valuable experience. . . .  Seeing the theories and history I learn about in class play out in a simulation really helps me imagine myself in these situations later in my career." 

  • Citizen Jane

    The spring viewing in Discourse in Democracy’s Political Science Film Series took place on Tuesday, March 26th. Citizen Jane: Battle for the City  recalled urban studies pioneer Jane Jacobs’ conflict with Robert Moses, the legendary urban planner and  New York City’s political elite. The documentary was well received by over sixty students, some of whom stayed afterward to share their own perceptions and opinions. The documentary was originally released in 2016, and was a featured award nominee in many major city film festivals. Jane Jacobs’ writings and urban activism are still very important in contemporary academia. For more information on the film series, please contact Professor Rick Henderson at

  • Belinda Atta

    Belinda Atta, public administration junior, has been awarded the 2019 Newman Civic Fellowship from the Boston-based non-profit organization Campus Compact. Campus Compact’s Newman Civic Fellowship, named after co-founder Frank Newman, is a one-year program that emphasizes personal, professional and civic growth for students who have demonstrated leadership and an investment in solving public issues.

    “I have learned that for social issues to be addressed and solved, we must educate those who lack knowledge about specific communities of people,” said Atta, a first-generation college student. “We should empower the powerless to enable them to advocate for themselves.“

    Click here to read more!

  • Dr. Billy Fields


    Austin Monitor logo


    March 25, 2019, Dr. Billy Fields, Associate Professor of Political Science, was interviewed by the Austin Monitor after he spoke to Austin’s Bicycle Advisory Council regarding Austin’s Vision Zero plan not gaining as much traction as hoped for. Fields demonstrated that these goals are not insurmountable. Using the development of the Netherlands’ city streets over the last 40 years as a guide, which have led to exponentially fewer traffic fatalities and more bicyclists per capita, he notes that real change occurs when the people of a city come together to make it happen. “The first thing they did is they brought their couches out into the street and they blocked the street off,” he said. “They just came out and they started building gardens (in the right of way).”

  •  Sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald stand on the bridge during an exercise off the Korean Peninsula in March 2016. ERIC COFFER/U.S. NAVY
    Sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald stand on the bridge during an exercise off the Korean Peninsula in March 2016.


    Dr. Don Inbody, a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science and a retired captain in the U.S. Navy, spoke with Stars and Stripes regarding the Navy’s plans to update their ships’ bridges and control systems to prevent future collisions like those that occurred with the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain. “People are key here, always have been and always will,” Inbody observed. Better training, he argued, was necessary: Sailors need to be trained, he concluded,  “with experienced people watching them.”
    Click here to read the full article.

  • Dr. Weber speaks to students and faculty Dr. Weber

    On Thursday, March 14th, in collaboration with the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Political Science and Discourse in Democracy hosted Dr. Eric Thomas Weber, associate professor of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation at the University of Kentucky. Some 300 students and faculty attended his lecture which explored the nature of culture and how it contributes or inhibits self-respect. Prior to the lecture Dr. Weber was joined by undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty for lunch at Italian Garden.  Students and faculty discussed culture and first-generation college participation.

    The following day, Dr. Weber spoke to Basic Political Institutions class (PS 3301) about Plato, democracy, and the virtues.

    Political science undergraduate student Valea Metzger was impressed by Dr. Weber’s emphasis on the importance of self-respect, saying Dr. Weber “encouraged me to ask questions, stand up for my opinions and respect myself, because then others will also.”

  • ICMA 2 ICMA 1 ICMA 3


    The International City/County Managers Association (ICMA) student chapter met recently to discuss the plans for developing the organization for future semesters. The organization hopes to have a strong semester this Spring, with aspirations of growing student membership and participating in ICMA events. The organization hopes to create a platform that supports students whom are seeking a career in municipal government. Additionally, the organization hopes to create a network of students in Public Administration at the graduate level and introduce undergraduates to the benefits of the organization and the opportunities associated with participating in professional networks.
    On March 10th2019 the student chapter of ICMA attended a reception for South by Southwest (SXSW). The reception began with a private after-hours tour of Austin’s new downtown library. The tour was an informative and inspiring look at how public facilities like libraries can contribute to the sense of space downtown and how public structures can utilize cutting edge architecture and sustainable designs to construct “buildings of the future.” After the tour, Texas State ICMA students walked to Austin City Hall where the city manager’s office was having a reception for the ICMA organization and which gave students the opportunity to meet and interact with public administration professionals and other student chapters. The event gave students a chance to meet face-to-face with professionals at the highest levels of municipal government.
    Samantha Martinez, an MPA student and ICMA student chapter member, described the event as “a wonderful experience. . . .  I truly enjoyed engaging with the ICMA leaders and other ICMA students from around the country at the Austin city manager's reception afterwards. Everyone was insightful and inspiring to hear from.”
  • Dr. Pestritto Speaking with students Dr. Pestritto speaks to students and faculty

    On Thursday March 7th, Discourse in Democracy hosted Dr. R.J. Pestritto of Hillsdale College in Michigan. Over 150 students and faculty attended a lecture entitled “Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism,” which was followed by audience questions and answers with Dr. Pestritto.

    The morning after the lecture, Dr. Pestritto addressed Dr. Don Inbody’s PS 3301 (Basic Political Institutions) class. In addition to the formal presentations, Dr. Pestritto met informally with more than a dozen political science majors over lunch and dinner.

    Connor Patton, a grad student in political science, observed that “Dr. Pestritto's lecture was an absolute treat. He took the time to talk to all students after the lecture one on one for those who had questions (and there were many) and he even signed my book! Furthermore, having lunch with Dr. Pestritto, and getting to talk with him in a small group setting to talk about his own academic work and my career goals was truly a unique experience."

  • Mr. Finch Speaking about President Bush Board Member Honored at Reception

    The Lyndon Baines Johnson Museum of San Marcos, in partnership with the Department of Political Science at Texas State University, held its 2019 Spring Lecture on March 7th.  Mr. Warren Finch, Director of the Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University in College Station, spoke about the legacy of the late President George H.W. Bush. More than forty people attended his lecture entitled “A Legacy of Service.” His talk was preceded by a reception honoring Mr. Finch and past museum board members.

    In his talk, Finch spoke about President Bush's service beginning with Bush’s service as a U.S. Navy pilot during World War II.  Mr. Finch shared stories about the president’s wartime service and his days as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, chief U.S. diplomat to China, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and as Vice President and President of the United States.

    Mr. Finch shared rare photographs and a film clip from the president’s decades of service. He recalled how proud President Bush was to have been part of the passage of the American’s with Disabilities Act and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The lecture was followed by a question and answer session. After the program was completed, Mr. Finch stayed to talk to people individually about President Bush.

  • SWIPS Logo

    Supporting Women in Political Science (SWIPS) met on Tuesday, March 5th to discuss the upcoming visit that members will be taking to the University of Texas School to attend a class and receive a guided tour of the law school. The next meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 2 at 7:00 p.m. in UAC 428. For more information please contact

  • Adam Henley

    On March 1-2, Adam Henley, a political science graduate student, presented a paper at the 2019 Lone Star Conference for the Study of  Political Thought which was held at the University of North Texas. Papers were presented by faculty and graduate students from a variety of universities including Louisiana State University, Texas A&M at Corpus Christi, the University of Houston, Black Hills university (South Dakota), and Jacksonville State University (Florida). Adam’s paper was entitled “The Political Vulnerability of Congressional Staffs.” “It was a really good conversation that drew upon a very wide range of political philosophy at a depth unlike anything else I’ve experienced, “ he observed. He added that “It’s definitely something I would be glad to do again.”

  • SWIPS 4 Cropped

    On February 23rd & 24th, four members of  Supporting Women in Political Science (SWIPS) -- Ashlyn Scott, Breanna Delagarza, Juan Perez, and Jazmin Pantoja -- attended the Texas State University Leadership Institute Annual Conference. The theme of this year's conference was based upon the Common Experience, "Lead. Create. Innovate. Leadership & Innovation for Change." The conference offered SWIPS members the chance for personal and professional growth by providing new leadership skills and networking connections. “My most valuable take-away, “ observed Ashlyn Scott, “was that when you are leading do not look to just yourself, look to those around you. A more collaborative approach to leadership is often the most effective way of leading."

    SWIPS 3


    SWIPS meets bi-weekly on Tuesday nights at 7:00 p.m., the next meeting will be on March 5th. For more information, please contact

  • Dr. Billy Fields The San Marcos Scoop logo

    February 22, 2019, Dr. Billy Fields, Associate Professor of Political Science, was interviewed on the San Marcos Scoop podcast, regarding how the City of San Marcos can tackle its future growth through proper urban planning and development that fosters walkability, density, and green spaces.

    Click here to listen to the full interview.


    During the second week of February four Texas State political science students traveled to Texas A & M to participate in the 64th annual Student Conference on National Security Affairs (SCONA). This year’s team consisted of three undergraduate students – Preston Nieves, Kenadie Cole and Jacob Dowdell -- and one graduate student, Ashlyn Scott.

    The theme of the conference was “Extinguishing the Flames of Fury: U.S. Strategy and Response in the face of Global Terrorism.” The keynote address was delivered by former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who shared an hour-by-hour account of the excruciatingly difficult decisions President George Bush took in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Preston mentioned how his understanding of President Bush’s foreign policy shifted based on this first-hand account of those initial days after 9/11. The students agreed that the keynote speech was perhaps the major highlight of their four-day trip to College Station. Other speakers included  Lt. Gen. Marshall Webb, USAF, Commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command and Ali Soufan, an FBI agent who specializes in counter-terrorism. 

    SCONA 3


    As Ashlyn put it, “my experience at the SCONA '64 conference was invaluable… I walked away with a better understanding of terrorism and what we can do as the next generation of leaders to counter the threats we face as a nation and in our world.”

    With Mr. Card’s personal testimony as the background, each of our four students joined small teams (assisted by military and civilian expert facilitators) and produced policy briefings addressing contemporary real-world issues pertaining to the war on terror. For example, Jacob worked on cyberterrorism, Kenadie on humanitarian assistance to the crisis in Yemen, and Preston on North Korea’s role in supplying WMD technology to terrorist cells and other state sponsors of terrorism such as Syria and Iran.

    Continuing a proud tradition of Texas State students winning awards at the conference, Preston’s policy team won the First Runner-Up for their briefing! Their project created a plan of action to negotiate with the Kim Regime, offering the regime legitimacy if it halted its sponsorship of terrorism and continuing or increasing coercive steps if it did not.

    The Texas State students also greatly enjoyed the presentations and chance to interact with guests from the military, CIA, FBI, State Department, and other parts of the U.S. government, as well as with other college students who attended from around the country. Preston, who is hoping to become an intelligence analyst, was particularly grateful for the networking opportunities. And as Ashlyn put it, she formed “relationships that will benefit me both personally and professionally from now on,” one of the reasons she enthusiastically described her participation in this event as “truly a life-changing experience.”

  • Texas State students attending HNMUN Students enjoying a meal in Boston, MA

    February 12th-17th, the department’s Model United Nations (MUN) program sent 12 students to Harvard to participate in Harvard’s National Model United Nations (HNMUN).  Representing Belize, Texas State’s Eunice Arcos, Stephen Aubuchon, Sam Flores, John Garcia, Trevor Graves, Kaylie Hidalgo, Ralph Kelley, Jesse Ortega, Laurel Parkhurst, Christian Sears, Zoë Steiner, and Ethan Strickland debated a variety of global issues ranging from “Augmenting Human Capital to Reduce the Skills Gap” to “Cyber Warfare.” This is the third year the department has sent a delegation to HNMUN. As in the past, the MUN program was made possible by support from the department and Student Service fee funds.

    In addition to the HNMUN, students from the MUN program will attend the Southern Regional Model United Nations ( SRMUN ) in Charlotte, NC this March 27th–April 1st.  Representing Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Honduras, twenty students are registered to compete.  Proceeds from the Step Up for State campaign the MUN participated in last fall will be used to pay for a portion of the trip to Charlotte.

  • Students listen to alumni panel Alumni Panel

    On Tuesday, February 12th Discourse in Democracy hosted the department’s annual Alumni Night event. A panel of six alumni shared their experiences of making the transition from college to their respective careers. The topics explored included resumes, interviews, career paths, networking, and internships. The panel consisted of Ana Lisa Garza (MPA, 2001), Matthew Hall (MA Political Science, 2012) Emily Gray (MA Legal Studies, 2017), Tychenika Kimbrough (MPA, 2015), Gabriel Sepulveda (MPA, 2012), and Elaine Zavala (MPA, 2014). 

    graduate students speak to undergrads about graduate programs Students enjoying pizza at alumn night

    Afterwards, students, faculty, and alumni enjoyed pizza, cookies, soda, and informal conversation at a reception organized by the department. Additionally, undergraduates were given a chance to meet with current graduate students to learn about the department’s three graduate programs. “Alumni Night was a helpful experience,” commented Thomas Hatfield, a double major in political science and history. “It gave me a fresh perspective on my prospects after I obtain my undergraduate degree. It was really nice to be able to interact with people who were standing where I am now, not too long ago, and to ask them questions one on one.”

  • Pi Sigma Alpha logo

    Pi Sigma Alpha held its first meeting of the semester, which focused on setting this semester's agenda. Pi Sigma Alpha plans to host a free LSAT prep (in partnership with The Princeton Review), to volunteer at a food bank, and to have an induction banquet. Texas State’s chapter was awarded over $700 from its national headquarters to throw its annual banquet.

    Questions about membership should be directed to the faculty advisor, Dr. Thomas Varacalli at


    Dr. Teele speaks to students and faculty

    Student asking Dr. Teele a question


    Dr. Teele answers students questions

    In anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, Discourse in Democracy hosted Dr. Dawn Teele (University of Pennsylvania) for a series of events on the subject of Women's Suffrage on Wednesday, February 6th. She discussed gender roles in academia at a seminar attended by two dozen students and faculty and then presented a guest lecture to Dr. Lamm’s “Women in Politics” class (PS 4324). Later that afternoon she delivered a lecture on her book, Forging the Franchise: The Political Origins of the Women's Vote to an audience of 85 faculty and students. Additionally, faculty and majors had the opportunity to speak with over lunch and dinner.

    “I thought the seminar was an awesome opportunity to discuss gender in political science,” Jasmine Reed, political science sophomore, observed. “I enjoyed hearing different perspectives from others who could relate to gender norms. The whole experience came across genuine and insightful."



    Coffee and Conversation with Dr. Teele Seminar with Dr. Teele, Coffee and Conversation
  • Students attending SOTU watch party Students watch the state of the union

    On Tuesday February 5th, over 150 students and faculty attended the first Discourse in Democracy event of the new year, a State of the Union Watch Party, in UAC 105. Students watched the president’s address while enjoying pizza, soda, and playing a State of the Union bingo card game. 

    Students signin in to watch party Students watching SOTU

    “The State of the Union has long been a tradition and staple of American democracy,”  Christian Sears, Student Government Senator at Large and President of Texas State's Model United Nations. “For the last hundred years or so every President, with the exception of Hoover has given the SOTU via a speech to the nation. It is imperative that we keep such traditions alive that have been hallmarks to our democracy. The President’s speech on Thursday reaffirmed those traditions. Discourse in Democracy did a fantastic job at hosting the SOTU. The free pizza and drinks was a nice gesture. And, I was very pleased to see that so many students turned out.”

  • SPSA logo

    Five graduate students (Ezekiel Loseke, Connor Patton, Damilola Asaye, Fanny Mazna , and Kamela Syed) and two undergraduates (Emma Barkis, and Valea Metzger) joined 8 faculty members at this year’s Southern Political Science Association (SPSA) at the JW Marriott in Austin, TX from January 17-January 19.

    Two of the grad students presented papers. Graduate student Fanny Mazna presented a paper on “21st Century Blasphemy Laws: A Violation of Human Rights in Pakistan.” and Damilola Asaye’s paper was about “From Oil Boom to Economic Doom: Reflecting on Institutionalized Corruption under President Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration.” Connor Patton, a graduate student interested in pursuing a doctorate, was particularly struck by the “excellent display of active academic work.” Likewise, Fanny Mazna noted that "being a part of SPSA was definitely a great experience. Not only did I get to know about different areas of research, but also got input from various scholars about my own work."

  • Patricia Shields

    Dr. Patricia Shields, professor with the Department of Political Science and the Public Administration Program, was featured in PA Times (the magazine produced by the American Society for Public Administration) as one of their “Profiles of Excellence.” Dr. Shields was interviewed about her career as a scholar and how she envisions the future of public administration/public policy scholarship, how online classes are impacting the teaching/learning model, and the challenges of gender bias in academia.

    PA Times Header

    ASPA was established in 1939 to promote the advancement, teaching and practice of public and nonprofit administration. It is the largest and premier association for professionals in the field.

  • James Earp

    Texas State’s public administration program now has a “Manager in Residence,”  James Earp, the Assistant City Manager of Kyle. The Manager is Residence program is a project of the Texas City Manager’s Association designed to give public administration students a chance to interact on a regular basis with an official in local government and to understand the importance of public service at the local level. In this capacity, he has been speaking to MPA and sustainability classes and meeting with public administration students, as well as working with Texas State’s Career Services program. This spring, he’ll be doing a graduate school shoptalk to help students explore careers in local government, and conducting An Emerging Local Government Leader (ELGL #Inspire) workshop to educate students about public service at the local level. The public administration faculty at Texas State University are committed to affording BPA and MPA students opportunities to gain practitioner perspectives on governance and administration. The introduction of the MIR program at our university is an important step in that direction.

    For more information on Texas State’s Manager in Residence program, please contact Dr. Nandhini Rangarajan at