Happy 50th Political Science

Left to right: Gerry Tyler, Joanne Walsh, Sharon Woodsmansee, Al Killilea.

This fall, more than 100 alumni, faculty, students, and friends gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Department of Political Science. U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) was on hand to mark the milestone. His talk, “The Place of the U.S. in the New Global Order,” was followed by a question-and-answer session.

Poli-sci, which now enrolls about 2,000 undergraduates and 150 graduate students annually, has achieved much in just 50 years. Department highlights:

• Six faculty members received URI Foundation Teaching Excellence Awards, a faculty member received a URI Foundation Research Excellence Award, and a staff member received a URI Foundation Staff Excellence Award.

• Conversion in 2009 to an innovative four-credit curriculum for deeper learning;

• The founding in 1994 of the John Hazen White Sr. Center for Ethics and Public Service, which offers ethics workshops for public officials as well as other programs in ethics and public service.

• The founding of the Mentor/Tutor Internship in 1998, which enrolls more than 150 trained interns annually. MTI students assist the Rhode Island Family Literacy Initiative as well as high school students in more than 25 schools at risk of dropping out.

• Dedication in 2003 of a Pre-Law Home Conference Room and Pre-law Classroom where students interested in legal careers can gather, study, and get advice.

In addition to these highlights, in 2004 Professor Al Killilea played an instrumental role in URI being named one of three Truman Foundation Honor Institutions. Killilea served as URI’s Truman Scholarship campus committee chair for 20 years. Seven of URI’s 12 Truman Scholarship winners were political science majors.

The anniversary event also celebrated the careers of Killilea, who will retire in June 2012, and Professor Gerry Tyler, who retired in June 2011. Both educators were praised by their former students for impressing upon them the importance every citizen has in this country’s affairs.