University of Mississippi

Public Policy Student Rod Bridges and Political Science Professor Bob Brown Recognized for Academic Excellence

Public Policy Student Rod Bridges and Political Science Professor Bob Brown Recognized for Academic Excellence

Pictured with University of Mississippi College of Liberal Arts Dean Lee M. Cohen (middle). | Photo by Denson Hollis

Robert Brown, professor of political science (from left), UM College of Liberal Arts Dean Lee M. Cohen (middle), and Rod Bridges, president of the University of Mississippi Associated Student Body. | Photo by Denson Hollis

The 29th annual Mississippi Universities Higher Education Appreciation Day—Working for Academic Excellence (HEADWAE) program recognized Robert Brown, professor of political science (left), and Rod Bridges, president of the University of Mississippi Associated Student Body and a public policy leadership and pre-med major in the Sally McDonnell Honors College, and other outstanding students and faculty members from 34 Mississippi universities and colleges on February 2, 2016.

HEADWAE was established by legislative resolution to honor individual academic achievement and the overall contribution of the state’s public and private institutions of higher learning.

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Peace Society Annual Conference

International Conference at UM Focuses on Global Conflict Management

49th annual meeting of Peace Science Society unites preeminent group for discussion, research


David Carter of Princeton University answers questions after speaking at the 49th Annual North American meeting of the Peace Science Society (International). Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

David Carter of Princeton University answers questions after speaking at the 49th Annual North American meeting of the Peace Science Society (International). Photo by Kevin Bain/Communications

A prestigious annual event that encourages the development of peace analysis and conflict management around the globe met at the University of Mississippi’s the Inn at Ole Miss this weekend.

The 49th Peace Science Society International Conference, which began Thursday (Nov. 12) and ended Saturday (Nov. 14), focused on how social science theory relates to international relations. Presenters included scholars and experts from a wide variety of fields.

Representing UM as participants were Jeffery Carter, assistant professor of political science; Benjamin Jones, assistant professor of political science; and Susan Allen, associate professor of political science.

“The Peace Science Society Annual Conference is one of the largest conferences featuring rigorous academic research on peace, violence and conflict around the world,” said Carter, one of the event’s organizers and presenters. “The University of Mississippi is honored to host the conference for the first time in this region.”

Carter presented findings from his paper “You Must Choose, but Choose Wisely: Interstate Conflict and Endogenous Leader Selection.” His talk focused on whether leaders’ personalities influence their decisions on responses to conflict situations.

“We ask questions like, ‘Can the domestic population influence the likelihood of international conflict based upon the leaders’ personal choices?’” he said.

Jones’ presentation, titled “Sequencing Peace: Civil War Termination as a Path-Dependent Process,” included original research on when and how countries plan their recovery after a civil war has ended. Allen chaired a group of presenters Friday morning in Ballroom B.

Besides providing speakers for the conference, the political science department held the event to get students involved.

“It was a great opportunity to see how an academic conference is run, but more importantly, I was able to meet so many young professionals doing amazing new research in my field,” said Nate Andrew, a doctoral student from Mapleton, Utah.

The conference is sponsored by the university’s Office of the Provost, College of Liberal Arts and Department of Political Science.

For more about the Peace Science Society (International), visit

Learning Lessons from Haley Barbour’s Career

Learning Lessons from Haley Barbour’s Career

Initiative launched to honor former governor through UM political science department


An initiative is underway to honor two-term Mississippi governor and national political leader Haley Barbour at the University of Mississippi, with a goal of attracting $1.5 million for a faculty chair in the Department of Political Science.

Initial gifts, already totaling more than $300,000, are an indication of the interest in building a study reflecting on Barbour’s role in shaping American politics over 50 years.


Haley Barbour photograph

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, second from right, receives the 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Mississippi Department of Political Science. Congratulating him are, from left, Lanny Griffith, chair of the Ole Miss Political Science Alumni Advisory Board; Lee Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts; and John Bruce, chair of the political science department. An initiative to fund a chair in Barbour’s name in the department is underway, with the study’s focus on the American political system. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

“Gov. Barbour has enjoyed a long and distinguished career and obviously has many more contributions to make” said John Bruce, UM chair and associate professor of political science. “From his start working in the 1968 presidential election up through his two terms as governor of Mississippi, Gov. Barbour has been an example of what people can do in the political arena. His jobs have ranged from explicitly political to apolitical, and from appointed to elected.

“There is much in his career that we can point to when talking with students about ways to be engaged. Whether a student leans to the left or leans to the right, there are lessons to be learned by considering the arc of Gov. Barbour’s career.”

Plans call for the holder of the Barbour faculty position to study political institutions and processes that characterized Barbour’s far-reaching career. Among the leader’s achievements are building a state party organization during an historic shift in party allegiances, working in four successful presidential campaigns, serving as the political director in the Reagan White House, chairing the Republican National Committee during an epic off-year election, leading Mississippi as governor during Hurricane Katrina and building a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C.

The named faculty position would allow the department to recruit a preeminent scholar with expertise in American politics, offering enhanced opportunities for students to learn about the development of our nation’s politics from a gifted teacher and researcher, said Lanny Griffith, CEO of the BGR Group in Washington, D.C., and chair of the University of Mississippi Political Science Alumni Advisory Board.

“This time in American politics looks remarkably dysfunctional, reflecting the importance of pursuing this work,” Griffith said. “We want this study to look at our political system not from partisanship but from scholarship, identifying what factors or dynamics will shape our political system going forward.

“The University of Mississippi is the perfect place for this study, considering the array of Mississippians who have played pivotal roles on the national stage.”

Bruce echoed that sentiment by pointing to the leadership roles of Barbour.

“His work in the White House, the governor’s office, the national party – these are all areas where political science has a great deal to say,” he said. “Gov. Barbour’s work has increased the visibility of our state, and his work after Hurricane Katrina brought substantial help to those in need. The Governor Haley Barbour Chair for the Study of American Politics will be a lasting legacy to an impressive body of work by one of our own native sons.”

Griffith added that building the Barbour Chair would impact young people’s lives. “I would hope that this study would help Ole Miss students understand the opportunities we have to be involved – the critical need to be involved – and help chart the course of our nation.”

Top Republican and Democratic political leaders participated in the launch of this significant campaign on the Oxford campus, including U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker and Texas Gov. Ricky Perry. Chairing the event were Austin Barbour and Paul Hurst of Jackson and Wilson Golden of Gainesville, Georgia, while Griffith is spearheading the overall fundraising for the chair.

While visiting campus for the reception in his honor, Barbour said he was “flattered and honored” to consider the prospects of a faculty chair bearing his name.

“It is special that the University of Mississippi has decided to establish this position, which will have more of a focus on politics and elections and less on government, as well as give attention to the development of a two-party political system,” he said. “I think most college students – whether they grow up in Mississippi or not – don’t realize the long history and importance of Mississippi’s elected officials in American politics.

From L.Q.C. Lamar, who negotiated the end of Reconstruction, to an impressive array of leaders through history and to the present, Mississippians have been incredibly influential across the nation.

“We’ve had many Mississippians in politics who mattered, and not just in the state. And look at the development of the two-party political system in our state. Its development in the last 50 years has been rather remarkable. The first time I ever saw a political poll in Mississippi was in 1968, when only 6 percent of Mississippians identified themselves as Republican. You had to be an optimist to be a Republican in 1968.”

The fundraising campaign is nearing its first goal: building an endowment of $400,000 to fund initial work. Annual income from the permanent endowment will cover salary, research expenses and student learning opportunities.

The long-term goal is to attract funds to increase this endowment to the chair level at $1.5 million, when it will become known formally as the Governor Haley Barbour Chair for the Study of American Politics.

Ultimately, the endowed chair will attract a prominent scholar in the study of American politics, as the university remains focused on building faculty support as its student enrollment continues to soar. With the largest enrollment in the state, UM needs to add 215 new faculty members over the next three years.

Endowed faculty chairs honor the person for whom the position is named, ensure that young people are taught by gifted professors and strengthen the academic reputation of the university, from which Barbour himself earned a juris doctor degree in 1974.

To make a gift online, visit Gifts can also be made by mailing checks payable to the University of Mississippi Foundation – with the fund’s name noted in the check’s memo line – to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655.

For questions and information on supporting the campaign, contact John Bruce at 662-915-7401 or; or Lanny Griffith at

Scholarship Honors Retired Professor

1575966_profile_picScholarship Honors Retired Professor

UM political science alumni and friends have honored Goberdhan Bhagat, who taught in that department for 30 years before retiring in 1994, with a scholarship endowment in his name. Bhagat (affectionately known as GB) joined the faculty after serving as a diplomat for the Indian government in the United Nations.

“GB introduced several generations of students to the world of international politics,” said Rich Forgette, chair of the political science department. “He has influenced the lives and thinking of many alumni, including many Mississippi political leaders. We are thrilled to have a scholarship that honors this great educator.”

The Bhagat Scholarship Fund began as a project of the Political Science Alumni Advisory Board. Once fully endowed, the scholarship will be awarded to a political science student in the “Take 5” program, in which exceptional undergraduates can earn a master’s degree with only one additional year of study.

The department welcomes alumni to be part of this group and encourages donations to the Bhagat Scholarship Fund.


Former Political Science Chair Robert B. Albritton II Fondly Remembered

Former Political Science Chair Robert B. Albritton II Fondly Remembered

UM administrators, faculty members recall late colleague and mentor as a great leader, example


Robert Bynum Albritton II

Robert Bynum Albritton II, chair and professor emeritus of political science, is being fondly remembered by his University of Mississippi colleagues as a visionary leader, loyal mentor and respected teacher.

Albritton, 78, passed Sept. 9 at his home in Oxford. A memorial service will be held later in Andalusia, Alabama. Coleman Funeral Home was in charge of local arrangements. Memorials may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, P.O. Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, Tennessee 38101-9908 or Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society, P.O. Box 1674, Oxford, MS 38655.

“We will miss Bob as a colleague and a friend,” said Rich Forgette, senior associate dean of UM’s liliCollege of Liberal Arts and professor of political science. “Bob had far-reaching academic interests: state and local politics, democratic theory and Thailand. He was an active scholar who loved to discuss research with colleagues.”

John Bruce, UM chair and associate professor of political science, said Albritton was “simply a good guy” who held good values, worked hard and savored friendship.

“Bob was, in many ways, the ultimate Renaissance guy,” Bruce said. “He would carry on informed conversations about a huge range of topics. The Department of Political Science and the University of Mississippi are better for the time he spent here.”

Robert Brown, a former student of Albritton’s at Northern Illinois University who recruited his mentor to join the UM faculty as department chair, said Albritton was “everything an academic should aspire to be.”

“He was energized by the give and take of academic debate and was a thoughtful researcher who addressed important questions,” said Brown, a UM political science professor. “Bob was a lifetime learner who never tired of tackling new ideas and lines of inquiry. And he was a caring and energetic mentor and teacher who had a profound impact on the lives of his students.

“Those of us who are lucky enough to do this wonderful job should look to Bob Albritton as a role model of how to be a university professor.”

A native of Andalusia, Albritton earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama. He moved to Oxford in 1998, serving as professor and chair of the Department of Political Science until 2003, when he left his administrative role to concentrate on teaching. He also chaired the university’s Faculty Senate in 2011-2012 before retiring in spring 2012.

Previously, Albritton taught at Northern Illinois University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Williams College, University of Vienna in Austria, Northwestern University and Chiang Mai University and Songkla University, both in Thailand.

Albritton’s professional activities included memberships and appointments in the Mississippi Political Science Association, Midwest Political Science Association, Policy Studies Association, Policy Studies Review, Journal of Politics, American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, American Politics Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, American Political Science Association, and the Association of Asian Scholars.

He co-edited one book and co-authored more than 30 journal articles, textbook chapters and countless conference papers.

Having played football, Albritton was an avid football fan. He was also an animal lover who often volunteered at the animal shelter as a “paw-walker.”

He is survived by his wife, Nantaporn Apasiripol of Oxford; a son, Robert Bynum Albritton III of Herndon, Virginia; a daughter, Phyllis Mary-Anne Albritton of Evergreen, Colorado; a brother, William Leonard Albritton of Saskatoon, Canada; and three grandchildren.

Online condolences may be left on the Tribute Wall at!/Obituary.

Student Finds Calling Through DC Internship

http://libartAnna Lee

Student Finds Calling Through DC Internship


University of Mississippi senior Anna Lee Whisenant, a Madison native, spent her summer in Washington, DC, as a policy intern for the US Small Business Administration (SBA).

The public policy leadership and political science double major worked in the SBA Office of Financial Assistance helping to rewrite policy to better suit the needs of small businesses.

Whisenant said her studies at UM have given her the knowledge to be an asset to the SBA as an intern.

“I’ve definitely been preparing for this with my courses in public policy,” she said. “And I’m doing a good job here because of my education at Ole Miss.”

The successful internship has helped Whisenant decide to pursue a career in law with the hope of working as general counsel for a federal agency such as the SBA.

Robert Brown Is UM Teacher of Year

Political science professor receives Elsie M. Hood Award at Honors Convocation

Robert Brown | Photo by Robert Jordan, UM Communications

Robert Brown | Photo by Robert Jordan, UM Communications

During Robert D. Brown’s 24 years of teaching at the University of Mississippi, the popular faculty member has earned many honors, but receiving the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award Thursday ranks as his most rewarding.

The professor of political science was presented the coveted accolade by Chancellor Dan Jones during the 72nd annual Honors Day Convocation. Brown, who has taught the full range of students at the university, was overjoyed and humbled by the recognition.

“I was completely stunned and dumbfounded,” Brown said. “I know and admire several people who have won this award, so the whole thing is really quite humbling.”

Brown joined the UM faculty as an assistant professor in 1991. Over the past two decades, he has been promoted to associate professor and professor, in addition to being co-founder and former director of the Social Science Research Laboratory. Brown is now a senior research associate of the SSRL and graduate program coordinator.

“Professor Brown is being recognized by his peers for outstanding teaching,” Jones said. “I am grateful to him for his commitment to our students and to perpetuating the culture among our faculty of making teaching our highest priority.”

One student noted that Brown “really made me want to learn.” Another said, “ He is by far the greatest instructor, friend, mentor and ally at the University of Mississippi.”

He was presented the UM Faculty Achievement Award for 2005-06, but said the Elsie Hood is “very, very special to me.”

“My home department is full of wonderful, dedicated teachers, and it’s nice to be able to represent them,” Brown said. “I want to be a good teacher, to challenge students to address difficult issues and be challenged by my students in return.”

“I want to help students see things from different perspectives and understand that they can have an impact, make a difference. To think that students thought enough of our experience together to nominate me really means more than I can possibly say.”

Besides teaching undergraduate political science courses and graduate seminars and research projects, Brown has served on the University Strategic Planning Committee, Faculty Senate and the University Smoke-Free Campus Policy Implementation Committee.

A nomination letter from one student notes that “he not only changed my view of his course in Politics, but of all my classes since then, giving me the desire to dig deeper and apply concepts I never would have been interested in doing so otherwise.” Another student, who has taken his classes for three consecutive semesters, said, “(he) gives careful attention to each member of the class and creates an environment where a group of strangers felt comfortable discussing controversial and intriguing questions about society.”

Brown earned his doctorate at Indiana University, a Master’s and bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University. Co-author of 20 refereed articles, book chapters, he has been the principle or co-principle investigator on external grants totaling more than $5 million.

Brown said he considered himself “lucky” to be teaching American politics at the university.

“When I walk into a classroom, I never quite know what I’m going to find,” he said. “Things can literally change from day-to-day, which helps keep the material (and hopefully me) fresh.”

Teaching in the Honors College the past several years has also been fulfilling for Brown.

“I’ve been in class with smart accomplished kids who are going to make a real difference,” Brown said. “I’ve witnessed amazing bravery, empathy and community. These things have touched me deeply and I will never forget them. My Honors students have made me a better teacher and a better person.”

Brown acknowledged several UM faculty and staff for their contributions to his success.

“I’ll begin with my old teacher and friend Bob Albritton, who got me into the profession to begin with,” he said. “He’s retired now, but there’s nobody on the planet who loved teaching political science more than Bob.”

“When I got here I was lucky to walk into a department containing John Winkle, a former recipient of this award and a teaching legend at Ole Miss. His mentorship has been very important to me. The person I’ve spent more time talking with about classes and teaching is my great friend Tim Nordstrom. Being able to bounce ideas around with Tim is something I really enjoy, and he has no idea how many of his ideas I’ve stolen.“

Brown said he owes a huge debt of gratitude to Doug Sullivan-Gonzales, dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and associate professor of history. “Doug continues to give me the chance to work with these incredible students and talented faculty and staff, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunities he’s given me.”

Brown is married to Laura Diven-Brown, director of UM financial aid. Their son, Sean, is a sophomore at Oxford High School.

Each year since 1966, the university has recognized excellence in teaching by presenting the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award. Based on nominations from both students and faculty, the award includes a personal plaque and a check from the chancellor. Recipients’ names are also engraved on a plaque listing previous winners, which is displayed in the J. D. Williams Library.

Scholarships pay tribute to former Speaker of the House, attorney Tim Ford

By Tina Hahn  |  March 11, 2015

Tim Ford

Tim Ford

The University of Mississippi is mourning the loss of dedicated alumnus Tim Ford – who was a longtime speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, successful attorney and strong proponent of education – and students are being encouraged to expand his rich legacy of public service.

The Tim Ford Public Service Scholarship Endowment, created in 2011 to pay tribute to Ford in perpetuity, continues to grow, with the first scholarships to be awarded for the university’s 2015-16 academic year. Ford, who lived in Oxford and earned B.A. and J.D. degrees from UM, passed away Feb. 27 of a heart attack.

“Tim Ford had a distinguished career serving his community, state and university,” said Richard Forgette, interim dean of the UM College of Liberal Arts and former chair of the Department of Political Science. “The Tim Ford Public Service Scholarship will help young people pursue internships in our state legislature and government. It is a fitting legacy to Tim’s work.”

In 2011, the Department of Political Science established the Tim Ford Public Service Scholarship to honor the graduate’s public career as speaker with gifts from Balch & Bingham LLP, a 250-member law firm where Ford was senior partner and executive committee member, as well as from other colleagues and friends. The intent of the scholarships is to help students interested in working in state government in Jackson by helping offset some of the expense of a semester internship.

The goal is to enable and encourage good students to consider public service options, department chair John Bruce said.

“Tim Ford was an exceptional supporter of the Department of Political Science,” Bruce said. “He gave not only financial support but also commitments of his time to work with our students interning in state government in Jackson. His enthusiasm and interest touched the students he worked with each year.”

Ford also was awarded UM’s Distinguished Alumni Award in Public Service the same year the scholarship initiative was launched.

Tim Ford (left) with Richard Forgette, associate professor of political science and interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts

Tim Ford (left) with Richard Forgette, associate professor of political science and interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts

“Tim was greatly respected on both sides of the aisle – Republican and Democrat,” Forgette said. “His public service made a great difference, not only in terms of his community but also to the state of Mississippi and the University of Mississippi.”

At the time he received the award, Ford said this about his alma mater: “At Ole Miss you meet the future leaders of the state. The friends and contacts that you make at Ole Miss will determine how successful you are in your future because you are literally going to meet everyone who runs the state.”

Ford earned his undergraduate degree in 1973 and his law degree in 1977. He practiced law with Carnathan and Malski and was an assistant district attorney until his election to the Mississippi House of Representatives at age 27. He was elected speaker of the House and served 16 years in that leadership position until his 2004 retirement. He holds the distinction of being the second-longest-serving speaker in Mississippi history.

During his tenure, Ford was known for his ability to hold the House together, despite partisanship pressures and a newly diverse chamber. He was recognized as an effective leader who left the Mississippi Legislature stronger than when he arrived, Bruce said.

Ford was the first House speaker in the nation to receive the William M. Bulger Excellence in State Legislative Leadership Award. The honor is conferred every other year on a state legislative leader who has worked to preserve and build public trust in the institution of the state legislature and whose career embodies the highest principles of leadership. The leader was also named recipient of the Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Award in 2003.

“The Tim Ford Public Service Scholarship will help University of Mississippi undergraduates learn about their state and about the state Legislature, a benefiting recognition of Tim Ford’s career,” Forgette said. “These scholarships will contribute to the academic experiences of future undergraduates at the university.”

Ford’s family chose the Paris-Yates Chapel on UM’s Oxford campus as the site of his March 3 memorial service.

Individuals and organizations can make contributions to the Tim Ford Public Service Scholarship by sending a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655. Contributions also can be made online at For more information, contact Denson Hollis, senior director of development for the UM College of Liberal Arts, at or 662-915-5092.

Winkle’s Vast Contributions Honored with Fund Promoting Faculty Excellence

John Winkle

John Winkle

For nearly four decades, UM political science professor John Winkle has impacted the lives of his students and devoted ample time to academic endeavors across campus.

In honor of his years of service, the University of Mississippi has established the John W. Winkle III Fund for Faculty Excellence. The initiative will attract funds for faculty support in the Department of Political Science, providing resources and encouraging the pursuit of excellence in the spirit of Winkle’s devotion to teaching. His honors include UM’s Faculty Achievement Award among others.

Winkle, whose long tenure teaching and advising concluded in the spring of 2013, was chosen to deliver the inaugural Mortar Board Last Lecture, an annual event for the entire UM community to close the traditional academic year. Since 2003, he served as faculty advisor to  the undergraduate Mock Trial team. This opportunity led many students to continue their studies at the UM Law School.

An avid advocate of honors education, Winkle assisted in the transformation of UM’s Honors Program to the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. Its academic structure includes the professor’s suggestions of a required senior research thesis and an emphasis on community service.

Among the few faculty selected to lead discussion-based honors classes and sponsor theses, Winkle’s interaction with SMBHC scholars allowed him a front-row seat to see the results of his efforts to strengthen educational opportunities for high-achieving students.

Senior honors student Frances Sullivan said, “Through his lectures and assignments, Dr. Winkle not only challenged us to push oursevles academically but to also our abilities to make a difference in society.”

TO MAKE A GIFT: Contact John Bruce, professor and chair of political science, at 662.915.7218 or, Nikki Neely at  662.915.6678 or, or visit the UM Foundation website.

Maj. Gen. James E. Donald Inducted in Alumni Hall of Fame

Maj. Gen. James E. Donald

Maj. Gen. James E. Donald

The highest annual honors for alumni who have made an outstanding contribution through good deeds, services, or contributions, admitted retired Maj. Gen. James E. Donald of Atlanta to the University of Mississippi Alumni Association Hall of Fame in 2012.

Donald, former chairman of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, earned the Bronze Star for his bold leadership as a task force commander with the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles during Gulf War I. He achieved strategic successes as deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army Pacific and two tours of duty in the Pentagon. He was appointed commissioner of corrections in December 2003.

In 2009 Donald was sworn in by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to a seven-year term on the State Board of Pardons and Paroles and was subsequently elected by his colleagues to serve two consecutive terms as chairman.

A Jackson native and a 1970 graduate of UM with a B.A. in political science and history, Donald earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Missouri.