A government professor for more than two decades, author of several books on politics, and commentator for local and national media outlets, Franklin & Marshall’s Stephen Medvic was named the new director of the College’s Center for Politics and Public Affairs.
The Honorable and Mrs. John C. Kunkel Professor of Government, Medvic takes the helm from Terry Madonna, who retired from the College earlier this year. His new role includes working with the Center for Opinion Research, home of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll.
Medvic lectures and writes about the role of political parties, the factors influencing campaigns and elections, and public attitudes toward democracy. His most recent book is “Gerrymandering: The Politics of Redistricting in the United States.” His commentary has appeared in the Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Fox News Online, CNN, and the NewsHour on PBS, among others.
In this brief Q&A, Medvic talks about his new role and the future of the Center.
As the new director of Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Politics and Public Affairs, what's your sense of the mission of the Center?
The Center exists to help our community – both on campus and beyond – develop an enlightened understanding of what's happening in politics and public affairs. The goal is to provide sophisticated, and rigorously nonpartisan, analyses as well as informative programming. Of course, the CPPA also collaborates with the Center for Opinion Research to offer insights into the public's attitudes about civic matters.
How do you envision your role as director of the CPPA?
I think of my role as having both an internal and external component. Internally, I'll direct the Center's activities with a mind to the academic programs we offer on campus. F&M has an historic strength in the study of public affairs, broadly conceived, and I'm eager to find ways to bolster our outstanding programs. One of the most important ways to do that is to draw upon the knowledge and expertise of our amazing alumni, so many of whom have made a mark in public affairs. As much as possible, I plan to bring alumni back to campus and connect them with current students.
My role is also to represent the College to external audiences. F&M is educating future leaders and generating the knowledge we'll need to solve ever more complex social problems. Part of my job is to communicate that to the broader public. In addition, I hope to offer explanations of the current state of politics, grounded in the most recent scholarship, through media appearances, public talks, and other events. And, whenever and wherever possible, I intend to highlight the incredible work F&M faculty and students are doing.
Are you considering changes to the Center's operations?
I don't think the Center's operations will change as much as they'll be expanded. Building on the legacy left by Terry Madonna, it's my hope that the Center can become even more engaged with the surrounding community. There are some innovative ways, for example, that we can facilitate citizen deliberation on questions of public policy, which will help communicate the public's informed preferences to decision-makers. Ultimately, the Center will be a resource for maintaining and strengthening democracy at the local and state levels.