Induction of Elizabeth Theiss-Morse

By Stephen Lahey, professor and chair of the Department of Classics and Religious Studies:

I am honored and pleased to be able to introduce our Interim Dean, Elizabeth Theiss-Morse. She has been chair of her department of Political Science for over a decade, which in Human Years is about 78 years. During her years as Associate Dean for Faculty and as Interim Dean, Beth has been instrumental in changing what needs to be changed, preserving values and practices that have been subject to frequently harsh and unreasonable criticism, and generally solving problems, putting out fires, and keeping the College’s educational and research engines functioning. We are all very grateful to her for her service in the Dean’s Office since 2015, but this is not why we have convinced her to attend tonight.

Beth graduated from the University of Minnesota twice, once with a Bachelor’s degree in History, and again with a Doctorate in Political Science seven years later. She has published nine books on the American Electorate and its behavior in the Midwest, on the vexed question of Who counts as an American?, and other questions that continue to bedevil the American political scene. She has published fifteen articles and eight book chapters on many aspects involved in understanding why Americans vote the way they do, and has received five grants from the National Science Foundation to do this work. This means that Beth’s study of the electorate has been recognized at the national level as sufficiently significant and important as to warrant tax payer dollars. As I see it, then, Beth is a psychological diagnostician of the American electorate, a position that doubtless will never cease to have interesting things to say.

She has taught, and continues to teach courses on Political Psychology, Political Behavior, Democracy and Citizenship, Congress, Comparative Mass Political Behavior, and Graduate courses in “Democratic Process, Institutions, and American Public Opinion,” “Political Psychology”, and on Political Parties and Behavior. Beth is, in short, just the sort of person who, when you ask “What do you think of the government these days?” it is best for you to listen carefully and with an open mind, because you are likely to learn things. In her research, her teaching, and in her interactions with faculty and students in her capacity as administrator, she embodies the values identifying Phi Beta Kappa, championing education, fostering freedom of thought, and encouraging academic excellence. She lives into the society’s motto, Philosophia Biou Kubernetes, the Love of Learning as the guide of Life.