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UTC department head elected to Council of the American Political Science Association

 Deardorff, Michelle


Dr. Michelle Deardorff has been elected to the Council of the American Political Science Association (APSA).  It is the leading professional organization for the study of political science; more than 15,000 APSA members reside in excess of 80 countries.  Deardorff, professor and head of the Department of Political Science, Public Administration, and Nonprofit Management at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, will serve her council term from 2014-2016.

APSA is responsible for developing the vision and plans for the future of the member-based association.  During the next two years it could consider ways the association can transform and be more competitive in the future.

“It is a great honor for Michelle to be elected to the Council of the American Political Science Association,” said Dr. Jeff Elwell, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Most of the members of the council are from the elite private and major public flagships universities in our country. Her election expresses the respect she has earned from her peers in the discipline and I know she will do a wonderful job and be a great representative for our university.”

In her teaching and research, Deardorff has focused on the constitutional and statutory protections surrounding gender, race, and religion.  She is completing work on Pregnancy and the American Worker—an examination of the lower federal courts’ interpretation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Americans with Disability Act of 1990.

Since 1989, Deardorff has been a member of APSA and accepted leadership roles in the late 1990s.   She has served as chair of the Political Science Education section and the Teaching and Learning Standing Committee.  Additionally, she was a member of the APSA search committee for an executive director from 2012 to 2013.

“We’re starting to realize this was a traditional, research based organization that really met the needs of graduate faculty at R-1[extensive research] institutions.  The majority of faculty do not teach at institutions like that anymore,” Deardorff explains.  “So the question is, how can APSA evolve to meet the needs of a contemporary organization?”

Many political scientists are no longer academics, they are practitioners, Deardorff notes.  She says during her term she wants the council to consider how it can reach out to many constituencies, including faculty at community colleges, liberal arts four-year institutions, Ph.D. and graduate students, and adjunct faculty.  The organization could ponder how the governing structure needs to change and how the organization can become more visible to external audiences.

“When people see a political issue, it is generally not a political scientist commenting on it—there are journalists, politicians, law professors—but the voice of the political scientist is often silent.  How can we translate our research into information that is readily available to the public and to the political realm?” Deardorff asks.

She also wants APSA to focus on helping the public understand the political process.

“We’re the people that can translate our research into meaningful applications, we’re the people to help explain the system and help engage civic education,” she said.

Deardorff earned her undergraduate degree from Taylor University.  She received her graduate degree and the Ph.D. from Miami University, Ohio.


Russian delegation visits campus

September 19, 2014

A delegation from Chattanooga’s Sister City of Nizhny, Russia, came to campus to learn about the transformation of Chattanooga.

Chancellor Steve Angle welcomed the group and described Chattanooga’s metamorphosis from a dirty, industrial city to a beautiful outdoor destination with a reputation for entrepreneurial success and innovative use of technology.  Angle explained the role of the University in the city’s history and future.

“The University partners with our revitalized community to provide support and expertise,” Angle said.  “Faculty and students at the undergraduate and graduate level apply knowledge and work in partnership with community leaders to help make Chattanooga a better place to live.”

Members of the Russian delegation were interested in finding ways to improve their own city, according to Dr. Irina Khmelko, UC Foundation Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, Public Administration and Nonprofit Management and Vice President of Chattanooga Sister Cities.  She facilitated the delegation’s visit to campus.

“They came here because they want to be our friends and they want to learn about our beautiful Chattanooga. They think it’s a beautiful city,” Khmelko. “We made huge progress and they would like to know more about what we did to get where we are. They want to be a city of high quality of life where people enjoy coming and living.”

Nizhny is home to one of the largest integrated steel product plants in Russia.  Anna Andreyevna Yarkova, Senior Internal Communications Manager for EVRAZ Nizhny Tagil integrated iron-and-steel works, was among the delegates.  She described being actively involved in leading environmental projects in her city, including educational events and tree planting.

Another delegate, Svetlana Vladimirovna Naumova, head of the interregional perinatal center and an obstetrician-gynecologist, explained that she sees an elevated level of babies born with Down Syndrome, which she attributed to “unfavorable ecological conditions.”

Gennadiy Yuryevich Fedorov, inspector, State Budget Institution, works in the field of environmental protection and wilderness conservation.  He explained that a national park was created to help solve pollution problems.

“The mission of the park is to preserve nature and develop eco-tourism, so that citizens can become more conscious of the environment.  Locals come to swim and boat at the park,” he said with the assistance of an interpreter.  “Scientific work is also conducted to protect endangered species—the falcon is one example.”

UTC students had the opportunity to ask numerous questions of the Russian delegation.  When the auto industry came up in the discussion, Sergey Igorevich, facilitator for the Open World Leadership Center, took a playful approach.  He asked the students if they had ever seen an automobile produced by Russia?  When they agreed they had not, he told them the reason.

“Whatever they try to create in the automobile industry, it ends up looking like a tank,” he joked.



The Department Welcomes Dr. Michelle D. Deardorff as its New Department Head

July 31, 2013

Deardorff, Michelle


Dr. Michelle D. Deardorff was selected as the Head of the Department of Political Science, Public Administration and Nonprofit Management.  Her research and teaching interests focus on constitutional rights as they intersect with the cleavages of race, gender, and religion, as well as in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. She is currently completing a book entitled Equating Pregnancy: Pregnancy Discrimination and Employment that examines the lower federal courts’ interpretation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 in relationship to pregnancy protections in employment. Dr. Deardorff’s interests are also reflected in her participation as a core faculty member of the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy.                    

Before coming to UTC, Dr. Deardorff served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Jackson State University, an Historic Black University in Mississippi, where she taught for ten years.  She was the Griswold Distinguished Professor of Political Science, the chair of the Department of Political Science and Acting Dean of Arts and Sciences at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. She is a founding member of the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute on Citizenship and Democracy, a coalition of academics who promote civic engagement and popular sovereignty through the study of civil rights in America.  She currently serves as the chair of the American Political Science Association's standing Committee on Teaching and Learning.




Political Science Student Robert Fisher Has the Experience of a Lifetime 

July 30, 2013

Robert FisherRobert Fisher recently completed an internship with Center for American Progress, as part of his acceptance into The Institute for Responsible Citizenship’s prestigious summer leadership program.   During this internship, he had the opportunity to engage key lawmakers on issues such as student loan interest rates.  He also met President Barack Obama.

In addition to being a Political Science student, Robert is also a Brock Scholar and SGA President.  We extend our congratulations to Robert on his achievements thus far.