Doctor of Arts Graduate Stories
The Doctor of Arts (DA) program in Political Science at Idaho State University (ISU) started in the late 1960s with the first student graduating from the program around 1971. The DA program started nationally in the 1960s and was initially funded by the Carnegie Foundation. The genius of the DA program was to address deficiencies in how doctoral students are trained for position in higher education. At Idaho State University, the DA degree is a Political Science degree grounded in interdisciplinary thought. The first placement in academia of a DA graduate was in 1972 and the most recent placement was in 2014.
In the ISU program's forty year history, over 85 students have graduated from the program. Our graduates have primarily end up teaching at colleges and universities throughout the United States and even some internationally. DA graduates are deans, chairpersons, and many (who graduated in the 1970s and early 1980s) are now retired or retiring. Other graduates have ended up working in state and local government administration, non-profit organizations, or even private enterprise. In the spring of 2013, the department started a project to post some stories of our DA graduates. We hope to add several graduates each year as a continuing project to capture the history of this unique doctoral degree.
Please consider this as a page UNDER CONSTRUCTION. If you want to read a comprehensive list of DA placements since 1996, please visit the graduate placements page.
Dr. David Dean Bowlby, D.A. 2009
I am currently an assistant professor of history and political science at Motlow College near Lynchburg, Tennessee. I earned a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Illinois at Springfield. I taught history as an adjunct instructor for several community colleges in central Illinois for over a decade, sometimes teaching at all of them at once in an effort to piece together a "full-time" teaching career out of part-time positions.
To make myself more marketable in the search for a real full-time position, I decided to earn a second masters degree in political science. After completing an additional 18 semester hours beyond the first M.A., I began teaching the American Government survey for one of the community colleges in addition to the U.S. History and Western Civilization survey courses. But I was still being overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated as a "roads scholar" or "highway flyer" and it was at this point that I looked into some doctoral programs. I felt sure that a doctorate would give me a competitive edge in my applications for a full-time position at a college or university. When I asked one of my favorite political science professors for a letter of reference he suggested that I check out the Doctor of Arts in Political Science program at Idaho State University.
I was familiar with the Doctor of Arts degree because I had made application to the D.A. in History program at another ISU – Illinois State University – only to have that university drop the program as I was beginning it because the State Board of Higher Education held that it was an unnecessary duplication of efforts. What attracted me about the Doctor of Arts degree was the co-emphasis on pedagogy. This was particularly attractive to someone who enjoys teaching and is always striving to make his classes engaging and meaningful to students. I entered the Doctor of Arts Program at Idaho State University with the Fall 2006 semester. I was very impressed with the level of scholarship of my professors in the program and especially pleased with the quality of teaching and that they too seemed to place an equal emphasis on their responsibilities both as scholars and as teachers.
While at ISU, I was grateful to be able to teach for both the Department of Political Science and for the History Department. I was particularly pleased to be able to develop and teach a cross-listed course called "Religion and Politics in the United States." Religion and politics (and public policy) is an area with which I am most interested as a scholar and writer. This is reflected in my dissertation topic. I wanted to explore what one Supreme Court justice referred to as the "generating history" of the religion clauses of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The dissertation was expanded into what became my first book titled The Garden and the Wilderness: Church and State in America to 1789. I am currently researching and writing what will be the second volume in a trilogy. The second volume will cover the period from 1789 to 1947. The third volume will cover the period from 1947 to the present. I have also outlined and will be concurrently working on an American religious history which I anticipate being published as a combined and two-volume set.
My darling Welsh wife, Olwen, and I divided our time between our homes in Illinois and Tennessee. My favorite hobby is fly fishing on the excellent trout streams of Tennessee and kayak fishing on the nearby lakes in Illinois.
Dr. Paul Pope, D.A. 2008
I entered the Doctor of Arts program immediately following completion of my MPA at Idaho State. I was attracted to the program for two reasons. First, the program required significant coursework in social sciences other than political science. Such breadth of education in a doctoral level program is uncommon. Second, the required training in teaching pushed my interest over the edge and me into the program. This training elevated my skill in front of the classroom far beyond what is common among newly minted doctoral graduates. By the time I completed the program I even had a small contribution to the Encyclopedia of the First Amendment (2008).
My first position after completing my dissertation in 2008 was a visiting professor position with Weber State University in Ogden, UT to teach a variety of course in American government and public law. Following my one year visiting position I was hired at the University of Texas at Brownsville in a tenure-track position to teach courses in American government, public law, and the Master of Public Administration program. I spent the next three years with UTB working on my research agenda and teaching many new courses almost every semester. I also became one of the main instructors for the Certified Public Manager program; teaching a few one day seminars each year to advance the training of active public managers in the community.
After three years in Texas I felt it was time to move closer to family and where I grew up. I was lucky enough to receive a great offer for a tenure-track position with Montana State University-Billings. I was hired to take over the position of MPA program director after several years of dysfunction. In addition to managing the program I teach a broad array of graduate public administration courses. Right at the beginning of my first semester I had two more publications come out. I published an article in the journal of Administration and Society, and a book review in the journal of Law and Society Review. Now I am looking forward to a long career with MSUB as I work to grow and develop the MPA program.
Dr. Elizabeth Shanahan, D.A. 2005
I am an Associate Professor of Political Science at Montana State University where I teach courses in public administration, public policy, statistics, and methodology. Central to my research is the study of how policy narratives influence policy outcomes. With colleagues, we have developed the Narrative Policy Framework, which identifies for empirical testing various classes of narrative variables at the micro, meso, and macro levels of analysis. In other words, how does the use of characters (villains, heroes, and victims) influence public opinion (micro)? How do different coalition group narrative strategies influence policy outcomes (meso)?
Currently, my colleagues (Mark K. McBeth—Idaho State University and Michael D. Jones—Virginia Tech) and I are working on a trifecta of books: an edited volume of NPF studies at the three levels, an NPF policy analysis book, and an NPF theory book. I welcome inquiries and ideas on using NPF.
Historically, the policy issues I have used in studying policy narratives have been some of the contentious issues in the Greater Yellowstone: management of bison, wolf reintroduction, and snowmobile access to YNP. Currently, I am exploring climate change narratives at the local, state, and national levels.
There are four aspects of the Doctor of Arts (D.A.) that are brilliant. First, all D.A. students have the opportunity to receive formal training and experience in teaching college courses. The program builds teaching skills in a beautifully iterative fashion, beginning with a teaching theory course, then moving to a co-teaching experience, and finally, teaching solo. This progression was critical for me in developing confidence and intentionality as a teacher. Because I let it be known that I was interested in additional teaching, faculty were very generous and offered many teaching opportunities during my tenure as a D.A. student (co-taught public budgeting, taught the methods lab, and guest lectured).
ALL of these opportunities gave me a huge advantage in securing a job. Second, the interdisciplinary nature of the program meant that I could focus on a particular interest of mine, which was statistics and methods. This kind of flexibility meant that I could develop an expertise in an area that made my research agenda a bit richer and more substantive. Third, I cannot say more strongly how valuable my research experience was under the wing of some of the political science faculty (Dr. McBeth, in particular). I learned so much about the research process from beginning to end, as I was mentored from the start versus a treated as a data grunt. I entered my faculty position with a lot of momentum toward tenure. Finally, while each cohort is different, I loved my D.A. colleagues, who are now scattered all around the country. Together, we laughed, and certainly cried at times, and we helped each other make it through one of the most demanding and yet rewarding experiences.
Dr. Paul Hathaway, D.A 2005
I feel that the interdisciplinary and pedagogy aspects of the DA are invaluable. I have just completed my fourth year at Jacksonville State University. In talking with colleagues in my department and around campus and it is very evident that they are interested in doing interdisciplinary work. Their problem is that they were never exposed to any discipline other than their own. I attend conferences and there is a huge push for interdisciplinary research. I have already been doing this because that is how I learned to do research in the first place.
The pedagogy that is taught in the DA program is invaluable. Students often say, "The professor is smart, but can't relate his/her knowledge to me." I already know things about teaching that full professors have not yet learned. When I discuss the cycle of the semester and how I organize the material to fit, they look as though I was a genius. I am not a genius, I just have a degree that recognizes the value in teaching at the college level.
Because of my DA, I am able to fulfill research requirements, teaching requirements, and make a connection with students that many PhD's are unable to accomplish. I think that if one was to objectively evaluate the accomplishments and placement of the DA students, they will find a very high rate of success. Idaho State University has a very unique and successful program that they should be proud of!
I began teaching at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama fall of 2008. I primarily teach MPA courses including Policy Analysis, Leadership and Ethics, and Grantwriting. I have been able to teach courses in the Criminal Justice and Emergency Management Departments as well. My primary research is in policy analysis and organizational decision making. I have developed an Introduction to Political Psychology course and have received many wonderful reviews. The interdisciplinary focus of this course allows students to really understand why political leaders and followers do what they do. I enjoy teaching the Introduction to American Government course also. This course is my opportunity to let students know how important government decisions are to them personally. Regardless of the student's major, government affects them in many ways.
Dr. Joseph Morris, D.A. 2000
I began Idaho State's DA program in political science in 1996 with the hopes of laying a solid professional foundation on which to build a career in academia. Four years later I graduated from the program with all of the knowledge, teaching experience, and research skills that the program promised. This was due in no small measure to the department's faculty, who not only encouraged my intellectual development, but provided me with a wide range of teaching, research and service opportunities. These opportunities included the chance to teach an array of undergraduate courses, conduct and publish research with a faculty mentor, and direct multiple survey projects for nonprofit organizations. In 2001 I was hired as an assistant professor of political science (tenure-track ) by Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania and, after earning tenure in 2007, was promoted the rank of associate professor.
In addition to the many activities common to all university faculty members, including teaching, committee service, board membership, etc. for four years I served as the director of the Mercyhurst University Honors Program. The program, which is designed for the institution's best students, is among the most highly regard honors programs in the region. Three or four years ago I began work on establishing the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics as a means of enhancing the public discourse surrounding important issues and providing undergraduate students with hands-on experience participating in politics.
The center is, among other things, a state-of-the-art computer-assisted telephone interviewing facility whose primary purpose is to conduct public opinion polls on issues of local, regional and national concern. Since beginning operations in 2010, the center has produced several polls focusing on such topics as social capital in Northwest Pennsylvania, women in politics, hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale region, poverty, juvenile crime, and, of course, congressional and presidential elections. The center's work has been featured by news organizations across the nation including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Harrisburg Patriot-News, CQ Weekly, Politico.com, CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio, and many others.
Dr. Darrial Reynolds, D.A. 1997
Dr. Darrial Reynolds is a Professor of Political Science at Southwest Texas College in McAllen, Texas where he has taught since 1999. He is an award winning teacher at Southwest Texas College.Dr. Reynolds story:
I do have memories of all the classes and professors from my DA program. In particular, I have memories of the (1) Comparative/International Politics courses taught by Richard Foster, (2) Political Theory courses taught by Wayne Gabardi, and (3) American Politics courses taught by Doug Nilson. I decided to pursue the DA from ISU because (1) the DA program at ISU is intended for students interested in a career teaching political science in a variety of higher education settings ranging from community colleges to universities, and (2) Doctor of Arts recipients are prepared to teach a variety of political science courses including those in American politics and in two additional specialties selected from among the fields of public law, political theory, comparative and international politics, and public administration.
After I left ISU, my first teaching job in higher education was teaching political science courses at South Texas College. The advice that I would give to current students about going on the job market and getting a job is that you should (1) carefully research the teaching jobs in higher education within the discipline of political science, and (2) faithfully submit job applications to the higher education institutions that are searching for someone to teach political science courses that you are prepared to teach.
Dr. Chris McKinney, D.A. 1990
Dr. McKinney is currently the Associate Vice President, Innovation Commercialization and Professor of Business, James M. Hull College of Business at Georgia Regents University in Augusta, Georgia. Previously, he has been the Director of the Office of Technology Transfer and Enterprise Development at Vanderbilt University. He has held similar technology transfer and faculty positions at the University of Florida and the University of Tennessee. For a complete biography of Dr. McKinney's impressive career, visit this page. We thank Dr. McKinney for taking the time to visit with us about his time in the doctoral program in Political Science at Idaho State University.Dr. McKinney's story:
I am very grateful to so many folks at ISU. One special mention is Dr. Neal Gilbertsen, a visiting faculty member during my final year of studies. Neal was very inspirational to me and "made a difference" in my career and life. I really like the depth and breadth of the curriculum, as well as the emphasis on teaching. And, the fact that it's a smaller graduate program means we enjoy a tighter student/faculty community. My first job in higher education was at the University of Florida, where I served in the administration and as an adjunct faculty member (1991-1996). The biggest advice that I can give to current or future DA students is whether you're going into full-time faculty or, like me, doing the hybrid administration/faculty route, the key is to highlight distinctive capabilities, interests, and a "can do" spirit. Also, a "warm recommendation" of you as a candidate from a person you know who also is trusted by the hiring folks increases your chances of being hired dramatically.
Dr. Randy S. Clemons, D.A. 1988
The DA in Political Science was designed as a PhD equivalency degree (that offered more focus on producing quality classroom performance), and I believe it has been a success. In my case, I was offered three different positions when I put myself on the market and I chose Mercyhurst because it offered a 4-year liberal arts education that valued the same teacher-scholar model that attracted me to Idaho State University (at the time Wisconsin Madison was among the schools I turned down).
In terms of scholarship in the last four years alone I have published a co-authored text book that is in its second edition and used at some of the best graduate schools in the country, two journal articles, one book chapter, and 1 simulation; which also resulted in three publications for three undergraduate research assistants. Additionally, in the last four years I did five reviews for two prominent journals, Perspectives on Politics and the Journal of Public Affairs Education. Further, I presented at three conferences; two papers at the WPSA (for one of them, also organized and chaired the session), and another paper that I co-authored was presented by one of my two co-authors at a regional conference. I have also frequently been asked to play a role as a paid consultant (e.g., helping with strategic planning) in the community, and have presented more than twenty times at national level conferences (frequently chairing and serving as a discussant as well (mostly WPSA but also APSA) and a handful of times at regional level conferences (SPSA, WSSA and PNW).
On campus I served as department chair for over 20 years while building, with the help of my colleagues, our department from one of less than two full-time faculty to a very strong seven person department today. I am now (for the last three and a half years) the Dean of the School of Social Sciences (comprised of Political Science, Applied Intelligence, History, Criminal Justice, Sociology, and Social Work). I have been elected by my peers to be the Faculty Senate President (three times in this role), and to the college-wide Rank and Tenure Committee. I have led our Faculty Contract Committee, Co-Chaired our Core Curriculum Revision Committee, etc. Further, I have taught not only in the undergraduate Political Science program, but also in two of our Masters programs (Criminal Justice and Organizational Leadership) and won the Teaching Excellence Award for the campus in 2006-07.
Though capturing most of the highlights, this is far from a complete summation of my career, leaving out things such as published book reviews, previous journal articles and a book chapter, the vast majority of my committees and service, details about my paid consulting experiences, guest lectures, the new Mercyhurst Applied Politics Center we started two years ago, teaching at the Arizona Honors Academy and Penn-State Behrend, the accomplishments of our students and alumni which are unrivaled at Mercyhurst during my more than two decades there, and so forth. Most importantly I would say this: never in all that time did anyone (no publisher, no editor, no administrator, no colleague, no promotion committee, no student, etceteras) ever question my degree. It did, however, help me land a job at a college (now university) that valued teaching, just as I suspect it might have originally ruled me out of a job at Harvard (but so would any degree from Idaho State University). That seems to be equivalency plus to me.