JMU — Political Currents Spring 2012
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Engagement Is On The Rise
Charles H. Blake

Thank you for helping JMU students and alumni

Since our last issue of Political Currents published, Jmu has selected a new president. Many departmental alumni greeted Jmu Presidentelect Jonathan alger at the March 2012 Jmu on the Hill reception.

While we have seen less not iceable changes in the Department of Political science in the past year, we have seen many ongoing efforts produce tangible results. One example just appeared in your mailbox: through a partnership with Madison magazine we have reduced shipping costs while increasing integration between our department’s newsletter and the university community. Please share your reaction to this new, pilot format with me and with other professors.

Political science department alumni engagement continues to broaden and deepen. In 2011 we enjoyed record participation levels at the March Jmu on the Hill event, at the april inta Politicos luncheon, at the May Public service Week reception on campus, at the June career workshop in Washington, D.c., and at a november panel discussion on the Hill featuring rep. Bob Goodlatte, sen. Mark Warner and rep. Frank Wolf. In February 2011 and February 2012 we established a new annual reception for richmond-area Politicos supported by the Jmu office of the President and our department. Both of these events featured attendees from the Virginia governor’s off ice, the General assembly, state agencies and a variety of other stakeholders. During Homecoming 2011, an intrepid group of department alumni met on campus to launch a new departmental alumni board with five graduates from each of our three departmental majors. This alumni board will complete its organizational process in 2012 and design its first initiatives.

This issue of Political Currents includes a sampling of our alumni and students’ varied interests. Six of our stories were written by students, and two were contributed by alumni. Engagement and connection go hand in hand. In fall 2011, students in the school of Public and international affairs formed an association of student organizations to publicize events and to build linkages with local community groups. The Jmu Politicos social media group on linked in experienced its largest annual increase in 2011, putting more current students in contact with the growing number of departmental alumni in the Politicos network.

The department’s 30 full-time faculty members — including newly hired rob alexander from syracuse university — had a busy 2010–11 school year. Our professors published two books, 14 articles and two book chapters; had four new book projects under contract; and presented 24 papers at professional conferences. Faculty also supervised 60 students in independent research projects. In spring 2011, scott Hammond received the Provost’s award for excellence in academic advising. In september 2011, amanda cleveland, Gary Kirk and lili Peaslee (in partnership with Big Brothers Big sisters) received a $438,000 grant from the u.s. Department of Justice to enhance youth mentoring. In fall 2011, Jon Keller was chosen as the Madison scholar for the college of arts and letters. Our department led the creation of a pilot faculty exchange linking Jmu with china Foreign affairs university, and associate Professor of Political science edward Yang is Jmu’s initial participant.

I want to thank each of you who share your time and talents with current students and alumni. If you would like to add your name to a list of departmental alumni willing to conduct informational interviews about your career field with recent graduates and current students, please contact me. If your travels bring you back to the shenandoah Valley, remember that you are always welcome in Miller Hall.

Charles Blake can be reached at

‘The JMU Politicos group on LinkedIn experienced its largest annual increase
in 2011, thus putting more current students in contact with the growing
number of departmental alumni in the Politicos network.’