Burdine Chronicles – March 2009

John Alton Burdine, 1905-1967, was a professor of Government, vice president of the American Political Science Association, vice president of the University, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and associate dean of the Graduate School. The 60th Texas Legislature adopted a resolution honoring Dr. Burdine’s “decency, intellectual honesty, kindness, integrity, and courage.” In 1970, the university dedicated Burdine hall in his name, and the Department of Government moved in.

At the time, Burdine Hall was the newest classroom-office building on campus and for many years nicely accommodated the needs of the department. But, the five-story (plus basement), tan brick building could only hold us for so long. As the department grew – we are now the largest department in the College of Liberal Arts in terms of undergraduate majors – we needed new space to grow in, and we got it. In May 2006 the department moved to the renovated Batts and Mezes Halls, in the heart of campus, on the east side of the ‘six pack’ on the university’s South Mall.

The move from everyone’s favorite brick compound to some of the most desirable accommodations on campus is emblematic of the greater transformation the department finds itself in. Things have really taken off the last decade, and we continue running on all cylinders. The most obvious change is in the composition of the faculty. Under former chair John Higley and in my first three years in that office, the department has hired well over thirty new colleagues. Several of these occupy endowed positions. Gary Jacobsohn is the McDonald Chair, Tom Pangle holds the Long Chair, Bryan Jones is the holder of the J.J. “Jake” Pickle Chair, and Kurt Weyland is the Lozano Long Professor of Latin American Politics. Other endowed positions are held by Melvin Hinich, John Higley, Zoltan Barany, Jeffrey Abramson, and Patricia Maclachlan. We are especially excited about our very productive corps of junior and tenured associate faculty, the most recent of which are Terry Chapman, Pat McDonald, George Gavrilis, Andrew Karch, Stephen Jessee, Eric McDaniel, William Hurst, Itty Abraham, Kenneth Greene, Zachary Elkins, Jason Casellas, Tasha Philpot, Jason Brownlee, Sam Workman, and Juliet Hooker.

The move to Batts and Mezes has also allowed us to provide much more usable space for our bourgeoning research institutes, such as the Experimental Political Behavior and Communication Laboratory, the Public Policy Institute, and the TIGER data archive on terrorism, insurgents, and guerrillas. And, Bryan Jones has brought his Policy Agendas Project with him from the University of Washington, along with Sam Workman, who is managing the project and will be assistant professor in the fall.

But, for all the changes going on, many faculty members spent the better parts of their career in Burdine Hall, and many of you earned your doctorates while holding court in those hallways and classrooms. We feel that Burdine Hall and the Department of Government will forever be enmeshed, and that everyone who passed through those doors carries a piece of that building around with them today. And so, I dedicate these Burdine Chronicles to you, as the Department of Government’s Ph.D. alumni newsletter.

Sincerely,
Gary P. Freeman, Chair