James “Jim” R. Soukup, Professor Emeritus at SUNY Fredonia, died on May 26 of natural causes in Troy, Virginia.
Jim earned his B.A. at Wayne State University, where he represented the school at the United Nations Institute conference at Mt. Holyoke College (and, in a career-inspiring moment, met with the conference’s founding influence, Eleanor Roosevelt — then chairperson of the newly-created U.N. Commission on Human Rights); between semesters, he studied French language abroad at the Sorbonne. He earned his M.A. in political science at the University of Minnesota (1952) and a Ph.D. (1956) in the same field at the University of Michigan, focusing on East Asian politics under the tutelage of Robert E. Ward.
Jim’s teaching career began at the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Government (1956-1970), where he was a three-time Fulbright Scholar to Japan for the study of that country’s labor politics, and eventually served on the Fulbright National Selection Committee. At Texas, he was principal author of the book, Party and Factional Division in Texas (1964), a landmark work; in the process he developed a strong working relationship with Rep. Henry González on research into Texas government and voting. He also published numerous articles in The Journal of Politics, Asian Survey, and Studies on Asia. He was instrumental in the development of the school’s Asian studies program and its supporting library holdings. In 1969, he contributed, along with Harold Deutsch, Seymour Lipset and others, to the Staff Report of the National Task Force on Assassination and Political Violence, chaired by Milton S. Eisenhower as directed by Presidents Johnson and Nixon.
Jim left the University of Texas to chair the State University of New York’s (SUNY) College at Fredonia’s political science department during what would become a transformational point in its history, 1970-75. He increased the department’s size, created the Washington semester program, and taught new offerings in four different subject areas: the politics of East Asia; energy and the environment; labor; and business and regulation. Both the J.R. Soukup Pi Sigma Alpha Scholarship (for outstanding junior) and J.R. Soukup Award (for outstanding first year student) were endowed upon his retirement in 1991 to Professor Emeritus.