The Latest from Smith House

If you’ve read “Smith House 2.0” the fall 2007 Drew Magazine feature about the five newest faculty members to join the political science department—don’t stop there. Here’s what’s new with the rest of the department, including recent retirees.

David Cowell C’61

Professor Emeritus
European and Middle East Politics

Why retired life is good: Since retiring in 2005 after 34 years at Drew, Cowell, a resident of Caldwell, N.J., keeps busy running three antique businesses and is active in promoting, protecting and restoring historic sites in New Jersey.

Current project: He’s serving on the governor’s heritage tourism task force, which has an 18-month deadline to come up with a plan to preserve historic sites in the state.

What makes this significant: “Tourism is the second-largest industry in the state, but even though we are the crossroads of the American Revolution—and one of the most important states in our country—it is much neglected,” says Cowell.

Lydia Feldman

Department Secretary

Current project: Beyond administrative tasks, Feldman spends a lot of her time organizing events for the department, including retirement parties and receptions for visiting lecturers. She also lends a hand to the economics, sociology, music and art departments.

Years in the department: 23

What her department Web profile says about her: “There is wide consensus among the political science faculty that the department would probably collapse without Lydia.”

In her spare time: She cooks, knits and spends time with her two grown children, one in Hoboken and the other in New York City.

What she no longer does: Downhill ski. She got into it as an adult, mostly because of her kids. At first she begged off, preferring to hang out in the lodge, but then she decided to go for it. “You’re afraid, you’re afraid,” she explains, “and then it’s wonderful. I skied for about eight to 10 years, and then I said, ‘I’m done.’ I conquered it and moved on.”

How the department has changed her: “Politics had been a passing interest for me, but now I read more,” she says. “For better or worse, I throw myself into discussions in the department. It’s fascinating. The faculty members’ knowledge is so much greater than what you’d learn just watching the news.”

What makes coming to work worthwhile: Each fall, Feldman looks forward to introducing new students to the department she knows so well. “The people come and go, but one thing that has not changed is the camaraderie,” she says. “It’s like a family. I’m just so grateful I came here.”

Catherine Keyser

Associate Professor
Comparative Politics, East Asia, China, Russia

Current project: Researching China’s emerging foster-care system. Keyser spent last year there as a Fulbright scholar; this year funding from charitable organizations is allowing her to extend her stay in China a second year.

What she’s focusing on: As the Chinese government increasingly relies on foster homes for the approximately half-million children who are abandoned or orphaned, or are disabled, Keyser is studying the country’s policy and practice as well as the role of domestic and international nongovernmental agencies.

What she does when not immersed in research: Develops a foster care system for China Care, a U.S.-based NGO and the largest private charitable organization working with orphans. Through foster care, many of these children have received corrective surgeries, or simple, yet life-saving, medical care.

Why being able to speak Chinese is crucial: “I can talk directly with foster families and orphanage directors,” says Keyser.

What else she brings to the project: “As a former foster parent myself, I have a real understanding of what it means to care for a child that is not your own,” she says. After caring for eight New Jersey foster children in as many years, Keyser adopted two of the children: Carlos, 9, and Lena-Caroline, 5, who is almost fluent in Chinese.

Debra Leibowitz

Associate Professor
Women and Politics, Global Feminism, International Relations

Where she’s headed this fall: With a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, Leibowitz is bound for Lake Como, Italy, in November to lead an international conference on improving the rights of women worldwide.

What she hopes the conference will do: Give leaders a chance to listen to those who “have had success in improving human rights, and to understand the obstacles they faced and how they addressed them,” says Leibowitz. “We want to help others who want similar change to think about the paths to do so.”

On her agenda: Liebowitz, who has a joint appointment in political science and women’s studies, will direct the U. N. Semester program this fall. And after her return from Italy, she will teach a course in women’s studies, then take a research leave to write a book about activism for women’s human rights.

William Messmer

Professor Emeritus
Comparative Politics, Latin America, Europe, Political Parties

Why he’s suddenly back on campus: Messmer is teaching PSci 2—Comparative Political Systems and PSci 107—European Politics this fall for courses for Jingjing Huo, who has taken another position.

When he’s not at Drew: On warm days, Messmer can be found on his 21-foot sailboat “Stinger,” fishing for bluefish, or cultivating rhubarb in his garden in Cosy Harbor, Maine.

Change of pace: “I was ready to slow down and do something a little different,” says Messmer, referring to his decision to retire in 2006 after 27 years on the faculty. “The lifestyle here is very relaxed. I like watching the natural ebb and flow of life in an oceanside village. It allows me to reflect on things.”

Hans Morsink

Political Theory, Democratic Theory, Human Rights

How he spent the summer: Finishing A Theory of Human Rights: Intellectual Challenges of the Universal Declaration, which focuses on what the authors of the historic U.N. declaration believed is the intellectual basis for human rights, and the importance of adhering to those rights.

Why he’s relieved: He’s been working on the volume, a companion to his award-winning The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Origins, Drafting and Intent (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), for the last decade.

His next challenge: Finding a publisher for his manuscript. “It’s nerve-wracking,” he says. “It’s like running in the Olympics, and hoping I don’t get a cramp before the end. I can see the finish line but I’m not there yet.”

Philip Mundo

American Politics and Government, Public Policy

Big shift: After four years as department chair, Mundo has handed over the department reins to Joseph Romance.

Why he still can’t sleep in: Mundo, who joined the faculty in 1986, is excited about teaching first-year students an introductory class in American politics. Says Mundo: “It’s held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:45 a.m.—the crack of dawn on a residential campus—so that means they’re reasonably excited about it.”

What he appreciates about first-year students: “They’re not jaded about the American political system. I want to teach them to be healthy skeptics, to question what they read and see.”

Plans for the spring: Mundo will be on sabbatical this spring, writing about energy policy.

What he’s noticed lately: “I’ve gone from being a little older than the students are, to being older, to being older than many of their parents. Still, I’m having fun, and that’s what matters most.”

Dick Rhone

International Relations, United Nations, Conflict Resolution

After 34 years at Drew, Dick Rhone died in 2004. Here’s what his colleagues remember about him most:

His work with the U.N. Semester: In 1971, David Cowell hired Dick Rhone to run the program. Says Cowell, “He ran it for many years and produced many scholars.”

His mentoring: “He taught me what to be worried about and what not to be worried about,” says Bill Messmer, a co-director of the U.N. Semester. “As a young teacher, I was always worried that what I was doing was not good enough. He was a big help.”

His big spirit: Department Secretary Lydia Feldman remembers Rhone’s booming voice and friendly nature, and his effort to win better salaries and benefits for the faculty. “He always worked for what he thought was right,” Feldman says. Paul Wice concurs: “He was like a dog with a bone,” Wice says. “He worked really hard for the betterment of his colleagues. I don’t know how he did it, but he got things done.”

His humor: When Rhone once jokingly told his students they were a “bit too ordinary,” the class hired a belly dancer to show up in class to give Rhone a lesson. “He got right into it and had a lot of fun. He was just that kind of a guy,” recalls Messmer. “He always knew how to have a good time.”

Joseph Romance

American Politics and Government, Elections, Parties, Political Theory

Current project: Incoming chair of the political science department, where half of the faculty has been in place for two years or less.

Why it promises to be a busy year: “New faculty bring new ideas, new courses and new expertise. It is both exciting and challenging,” he explains. “It was hard to replace those who left but I think we did a great job. I’m hoping it is a seamless transition, and all indications show it will be.”

Why the political science major itself is scheduled to be redesigned: “Politics and the issues do not stay the same, and the major will reflect that.” That means new requirements and new courses focusing on nation building, education policy, terrorism and torture.

What he hopes to accomplish: “The No. 1 priority is the students—making sure they get good advice, the courses they need and all the opportunities we have to offer,” says Romance. “A close second is making sure the faculty can further their research and develop as good, solid faculty members. The third…” he says, laughing, “is making sure I stay sane.”

Douglas Simon

Professor Emeritus
International Relations, U.S. Foreign Policy, National Security, Vietnam

The lecture circuit: Since he retired in 2005 after 33 years at Drew, Simon has a packed schedule doing what he’s always enjoyed—lecturing about international relations and U.S. foreign policy. This fall, he’ll begin a series of public talks at local libraries and other adult education programs. “It forces me to keep up on my subject matter and to constantly think and read about it even though I am retired,” he says. “It keeps me on my toes, and I think that’s good.”

It’s not all work: Since he left Drew, he and his wife have squeezed in four trips to Europe.

What else is different: “I’m not traveling with any scholarly questions to explore and bring back to my class. I am going just to enjoy and relax.”

Paul Wice

Professor Emeritus
Public Law, Judicial Process, American Politics and Government

What prompted his retirement: After 33 years in the classroom, a near-fatal heart attack in 2006 forced his retirement.

The silver lining: Retirement is giving him the chance to focus on his passion: writing. “As a professor, teaching comes first. Now I have the freedom to write anytime I want,” he says.

Current project: A book, The Final Chapter: Presidents in Retirement, which he finished this spring. “I examine what all 35 presidents did after they left office. I look at the difficulties and successes of those who are leaders of our country one day and private citizens the next.”

What he’s learned: “The ones who are most productive in retirement seem to be the ones with the least successful presidencies,” he says. Presidents John Quincy Adams, Hoover and Carter spent much of their retirement trying to “vindicate themselves after largely ineffective and difficult” terms.

What’s next: Wice, who lives on the edge of campus, is working on the final chapter of his 12th book, a personal memoir about growing up in Washington, D.C., watching it change from predominately white to predominately black.

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