Burdine Chronicles – August 2011

Dear Alumni and Friends,

As the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association is about to take place in Seattle, let me invite any of you attending to drop by the Texas reception, co-sponsored by UT, Rice, Houston, A&M and Tech. It has become our custom to buy old friends of the department, as well as current students and faculty, a drink or two and I see no reason to break an honorable tradition.

We are about to embark on a fourth straight year of difficult economic and budgetary problems. The College of Liberal Arts has an austerity plan to get us back in the black soon. In the meantime, our normal pattern of recruiting several lines each year has been interrupted. We were able to hire only one new colleague last year (Scott Wolford, PhD Emory, assistant professor Colorado). The year previously we were permitted to break a total hiring freeze in order to bring Daniel Brinks back to the department after a short-lived stint at Notre Dame. This year we will again be seeking to fill the Charles Wilson chair in Pakistan Studies and have one open rank search in international relations.

Let me bring you up to date on developments in our international relations field, which is a top priority of the department. Harrison Wagner ended a stellar career by retiring last January and George Gavrilis resigned in May 2010. That left us with only three active members of the field: Peter Trubowitz, Patrick McDonald and Terry Chapman. Peter was promoted to full professor last year, but we stood to lose both McDonald and Chapman, each of whom was being hotly pursued by other institutions. I am happy to report that with the Dean’s support, we were able to retain both and with the addition of Wolford have a very talented core of a subfield clearly on an upward trajectory. That trajectory should be ensured with a successful search this year.

Now for something entirely different: It probably started as a joke, when it was suggested to me that I challenge the chair of the Texas A&M political science department to a Longhorn-Aggie political science softball duel. Some time has passed since then, but the idea never died, and I am happy to report to you that the challenge has been made and accepted, and that next spring, exact date TBD, the state’s flagship political science programs will gather in Austin for their first annual softball game. The game will be open to interested faculty, graduate students and staff. Alumni, of course, are also welcome to play, so feel free to join the fun. We expect people to show up and play, or at least cheer and mingle, and we expect people to make the trek to College Station in 2013 for the second annual match. We expect to have a great time. We also expect to win.

Best wishes,
Gary P. Freeman, Chair