Department History

Overview

Established in 1907, LSU's Department of Political Science has been a gathering place for some of the finest teachers and scholars in the discipline. Past and present faculty include four presidents of the Southern Political Science Association, two presidents of the American Political Science Association, five editors of such prestigious academic journals as theJournal of Politics, the American Political Science Review, and theAmerican Politics Quarterly, several Fulbright scholars, a program director of the National Science Foundation, and a member of the National Council on Humanities.

The Department of Political Science is one of the few in the country equally renowned for its quantitative and theoretical research. This dual focus was shaped not only at LSU but nationwide by our own prominent intellects including Taylor Cole, Charles Hyneman, Eric Voegelin, Wilmoore Kendall, Walter Berns, William Havard and René Williamson.

As one contemporary said of Voegelin and Hyneman: "two more contrasting people could hardly have been found in one department: the student of pragmatic politics in America, and the political theorist, and indeed formal philosopher, of international repute. In their unlikeness they illustrate the extraordinary range and flexibility of appreciation that LSU had acquired."1   When Hyneman and Voegelin died on the same day in January of 1985, The American Spectator reported that their deaths had "lowered the I.Q." of the nation. The heritage that they, along with many others, brought to LSU of creative brilliance and respect for various methodologies remains a part of our character today.

The connections of the LSU Political Science Department to other programs around the country have always been strong. Professors and graduates have taught at such schools as Harvard, Michigan, Princeton, Yale and Duke or have gone on to accomplished careers in government service. As one graduate, former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey has said of his experiences at LSU, "the students simply had politics in their blood, and they took it seriously."2 

 

Notable Faculty of the Past

These seminal thinkers, along with many others from our department's almost ninety year history, have shaped the direction of political science at LSU and in the academy at large.

Charles Wooten Pipkin joined the Department in 1925 and taught until 1931 when he became dean of the Graduate School. He had studied at Vanderbilt and Harvard, and was the first of many Rhodes scholars to join the department in its early years. He spoke frequently of "the redemption of the South through education," and hoped to create, through LSU education, a "good society," by which he meant "essential democracy for white and black." As Dean of the Graduate School, Pipkin became the editor of the well known Southern Review and assembled at LSU many of the brightest liberal arts figures of the day, including Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, both fellow Rhodes scholars.

R. Taylor Cole joined the Department in 1927, fresh from the University of Texas Master's Program. He was made assistant professor while working concomitantly on his Ph.D. at Harvard which he received in 1936. Cole is well known for his work in comparative politics, especially on the bureaucracies of Canada, Europe, and Africa. His books Responsible Bureaucracies andEuropean Political Systems were standards in the field for many years. Cole served the discipline of political science as the editor of the Journal of Politics and the American Political Science Review. He was president of both the Southern Political Science Association and the American Political Science Association. In a recent printed interview, Cole reminisced that his "interest in bureaucracy started at LSU," where he helped write the first draft of the civil service law for Louisiana. "This was my first interest and involvement in bureaucracy, and the applied side thus came before the theoretical one."3 Significant for the character of political science at LSU, Cole was equally interested in pragmatic and theoretical politics. He says of his own experience that "somehow or other you had to have your roots in political theory, especially the history of political theory, in order to maintain a perspective on the more temporary and current events of the day."4 This dual perspective would prove characteristic of political science at LSU to the present.

Alex B. Daspit joined the Department in 1934. An LSU alumnus and Rhodes scholar, he taught both at Harvard and LSU until 1942 when he took a permanent position at the State Department. During his years at LSU and Harvard, he taught Hubert Humphrey and John F. Kennedy some of their earliest lessons in political science.

Charles S. Hyneman chaired the Department from 1937 to 1942 and continued teaching at LSU until 1946. His many well known books include Bureaucracy in a Democracy, The Study of Politics, The Supreme Court on Trial, and The Founding: A Perfect Union. Hyneman served as vice president and late president of the American Political Science Association. He is well known in the discipline for challenging traditional methods of teaching and studying political science. According to his memorial in PS: Political Science and Politics, "he left no disciples, only students;" many who knew him said he was the most gifted and dedicated teacher they had ever met.5 Hyneman said of his experience in the department at LSU, "I regard the brief period at LSU as the most formative of my adult years so far as determining my character is concerned."6 

Eric Voegelin came to LSU in 1942 as a visiting associate professor, was made full professor in 1945, and stayed until 1958 when he left to direct a Bavarian state research institute in Munich. Voegelin received his doctorate from the University of Vienna in 1922. After a short term as assistant to the noted positivist legal theorist, Hans Kelsen, Voegelin was named a Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Fellow and given the opportunity to pursue postdoctoral studies in the United States with some of the finest minds at Columbia, Wisconsin, Harvard and Yale. Later in Voegelin's career, when the Nazis entered Vienna (he understood Nazism from the start and was an outspoken antagonist) Voegelin fled for America, leaving all his possessions behind. As one of Voegelin's American friends said in 1942, "with [Voegelin's] enormous intellectual and imaginative gifts. . . and with his inclination to candor in observations on men and ideas, he scared off more than one major American university. He did not scare off LSU."7 Voegelin's overwhelming scholarly output includes some fifteen books in English or in German and over a hundred articles in one or the other language.

William Havard joined the Department in 1962 and became chair in 1963. An LSU undergraduate, Havard did his doctorate at the London School of Economics, was dean of arts and sciences at VPI for several years, and after teaching at LSU, became head of political science at Vanderbilt. Havard is the author of such well known books as A Band of Prophets: The Vanderbilt Agrarians After Fifty Years and The Recovery of Political Theory: Limits and Possibilities. His role in the dual focus of political science at LSU is recalled, in his own words: "Even though I was teaching and writing in other areas of political science during this period, including some work that was perceived as behavioral, I made efforts to keep up with the other major subfields of the discipline so far as program participation at meetings and publication in the journals were concerned."8 Havard served as editor of theJournal of Politics and president of the Southern Political Science Association. LSU was formative for Havard in his uncompromising respect for both theoretical and quantitative methodologies.

René de Visme Williamson was a Harvard Ph.D. who held faculty positions at Princeton, Davidson, and Beloit Colleges and the University of Tennessee before coming to LSU. He also taught at the University of Michigan, Vanderbilt University, Johns Hopkins University, and Duke University. He published several books, including Independence and Involvement: A Christian Re-Orientation in Political Science and Politics and Protestant Theology: An Interpretation of Tillich, Barth, Bonhoeffer, and Brunner and a number of articles in leading journals. A marvelous teacher, Dr. Williamson was one of the leading political theorists of his generation, particularly in the field of political theology. He served as editor of the Journal of Politics from 1949 to 1953, and was a member of the executive council of the American Political Science Association from 1959 to 1961. In 1959 he was elected President of the Southern Political Science Association. He was chairman of the Department of Political Science at LSU from 1955 to 1963 and again from 1965 to 1968. Dr. Williamson lives in Baton Rouge, in retirement as Professor Emeritus.

C. Van Crabb, Jr. was a Johns Hopkins Ph.D. who taught at Vassar College before coming to LSU in 1968. He has published numerous books and articles, most notable of which isAmerican Foreign Policy in the Nuclear Age. One of the most widely used textbooks on college and university campuses in the 1960's, this work was rivaled only by Hans Morgenthau's Politics Among Nations and Inis Claude's Swords Into Plowshares. Dr. Crabb was also one of the first scholars to focus upon the concept of "bipartisanship" in American foreign policy or, more broadly, executive-legislative relations in the foreign policy process. His monograph on this subject, Bipartisan Foreign Policy: Myth or Reality? was a pioneering study of the topic. Yet another of his books, Invitation to Struggle: Congress, the President and Foreign Policy was one of the most widely used analysis of the subject in the United States. His textbook on international politics, Nations in a Multipolar World was one of the first to focus upon the concept of 'multipolarity' and its implications for the international system. Finally, Dr. Crabb's The Elephants and the Grass: A Study of Non-Alignment was one of the earliest studies in the West attempting to identify and analyze the unique foreign policy orientation of nations belonging to the Third World. Known as an exceptional teacher, and recipient of a number of teaching awards, Dr. Crabb served as chairman of the Department of Political Science from 1968 to 1979. He continues an active research agenda as Professor Emeritus.

 

Current Departmental Accomplishments

The Department currently consists of eighteen full-time, tenure track faculty, and one instructor, all of whom hold the Ph. D. degree. The faculty of the Department serve on a multitude of editorial boards and executive councils for professional associations. Since 1990, the faculty have published 32 books and 83 articles in refereed journals. They have contributed 50 essays to edited collections and presented over 100 papers at national and regional meetings of professional associations. Each year the Department of Political Science at SUNY Stony Brook conducts a study of department's based on publication in the top three journals in the discipline: The American Political Science Review; The Journal of Politics, and The American Journal of Political Science. The 1986-1996 study ranked the LSU Department of Political Science 31st in the country. When controlled for number of faculty, that ranking increased to 19th. Faculty members serve on the editorial boards of ten major journals, as well as the executive councils of the Southwestern, Southern, International Studies, and American Political Science Associations. James Campbell served as Program Director of the Political Science Division for the National Science Foundation. Timothy Power was a Fulbright Lecturer in Brazil. Ellis Sandoz, who served on the National Council on the Humanities under President Reagan was recently given the University Medal by Palecki University Olomou in the Czech Republic. Dr. Sandoz was also the department's first Distinguished Research Master. Dr. Mitchell Rice is managing editor of The Journal of Social Policy and Public Management. Dr. Eugene Wittkopf was chosen for the first endowed professorship in departmental history, the R. Downs Poindexter Professorship. Finally, Dr. Eubanks was chosen, in 1992, as the 25th Alumni Professor in LSU history, the first in the Department of Political Science. During the five years from 1990-1995, the Department successfully received over $800,000 in grant monies. Drs. Campbell and Wittkopf were successful in obtaining an LEQSF grant; Dr. Garand was a principal investigator for three LEQSF projects; Dr. Stoner has received grants from the NEH, the Olin Foundation, Bradley Foundation, and Earhart Foundation, as well as a Salvatori Foundation Fellowship. Dr. Stacia Haynie recently received a social science research and development grant from the LEQSF program.

The Department regularly teaches over 2000 students per semester. It now has over 300 undergraduate majors and approximately 50 graduate students enrolled in its M. A. and Ph. D. programs. Teaching at the graduate and undergraduate level has always been a departmental strength. Dr. Eugene R. Wittkopf is co-author of the leading undergraduate international relations textbook in the United States. In 1991 Drs. James Garand, Cecil V. Crabb, and Harry Mokeba were nominated for the Student Government Association undergraduate teaching award, and Professor Garand was chosen as the recipient of the award. In 1993 Dr. Mokeba was the first recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Robert S. Udick Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Both Dr. Cecil Eubanks and Dr. T. Wayne Parent have been identified as two of LSU's outstanding professors in Lisa Birnbach's Guide to Colleges and Universities. Dr. Parent, Dr. Eubanks, Dr. Kevin Mulcahy, and Dr. James Bolner have all been recipients of the AMOCO Undergraduate Teaching Award. Dr. Parent was also the recipient of the 1996 Alumni Association Faculty Excellence Award.

Closely allied with the Department is the Eric Voegelin Institute for American Renaissance Studies. Established in 1987 and named for one of the preeminent scholars in LSU's history, Eric Voegelin, the Mission of the Institute is to explore through research, conferences, and publications, the thought of Eric Voegelin. Dr. G. Ellis Sandoz, a political theorist, is the Director of the Institute. The Institute operates in a highly interdisciplinary fashion, conducting invitational seminars and conferences in the United States and abroad, drawing outstanding scholars from across the country and internationally, on the historical and theoretical issues surrounding liberty, individualism, social order and disorder, free enterprise, constitutionalism and democratic government. It has held conferences in the Czech Republic and Poland, as well as the United States. With an international membership of 1300, the Eric Voegelin Society, sponsored by the Institute, regularly hosts a program at the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association. Its membership counts about 1300 internationally. Finally, the Eric Voegelin Institute is the central supporting unit in the massive enterprise devoted to publishing the collected works of Eric Voegelin in 34 volumes.


Notes


1. Robert Brechtold Heilman, The Southern Connection. (Baton Rouge, 1985), 17.

 

2. Hubert H. Humphrey, The Education of a Public Man: My Life and Politics. (Minnesota, 1991), 40.

 

3. Political Science in America, Michael A. Baer, Malcolm E. Jewell, and Lee Sigelman eds. (Lexington, 1991), 72-73.

 

7. Robert Brechtold Heilman, The Southern Connection. (Baton Rouge, 1985), 18.

 

8. William C. Havard, The Recovery of Political Theory: Limits and Possibilities. (Baton Rouge, 1984), 4.