Kansas State University


Political Science

Category: SUMMER 2016

A Note from the Department Head

It is both an exhilarating and a challenging time for K-State Political Science.  It is exhilarating because our students and faculty continue to flourish. As the following stories illustrate, our students have continued our long tradition of competing for nationally prestigious awards. They also go on to a wide range of noted law schools, graduate schools, and careers. Our faculty members continue to rack up an ever growing number of accolades for their teaching and research. Two outstanding political science professors won KSU teaching awards this spring, adding to our already lengthy roster of award winning teachers. In research, members of our faculty continue to be invited to eminent universities to present their scholarship and to leadership positions within our disciplinary organizations.  Given the ever-growing national and international visibility of our faculty and the many successes of our outstanding students, it is in a whole host of ways a great time for K-State Political Science.

If you follow the news, however, you are also no doubt aware that public universities face a growing number of fiscal challenges. In our department, permanent, base budget cuts this year and next have resulted in a 20% reduction in our Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) budget and the loss of one faculty position.  If state or university budgets necessitate additional reductions in coming months and years, we will have no other option but to surrender more faculty and GTA positions. As you might guess, this is highly disappointing on many levels. Most troubling of all is the impact that ongoing budget cuts will have on students. At a time when students are asked to pay increasingly higher tuition rates and are saddled with record levels of student loan debt, the reduction in our faculty and GTA numbers means that we will be able to provide fewer and less varied courses to our majors. As our staff shrinks, we will also engage in less of the cutting edge research that has so excited students in our classrooms over recent years, and the scale of our public service activities will decline proportionally as well.

Our department has thus reached unprecedented heights in recent years, but we also face unprecedented challenges. Rest assured that with our tremendous faculty and staff and the motivated students that gravitate toward our major, we will overcome the various obstacles in our path and continue to excel.  As always, we will do everything possible to provide a world class education to each new cohort of K-Staters, and we will endeavor to make our alumni and friends proud.

I encourage you to read the summer edition of our newsletter to see some of the great things our students and faculty are doing.  Like many academic departments in public universities across the nation, we face uncommon fiscal trials at this time.  But, in typical K-State fashion, we continue to thrive!

Jeff Pickering

Department Head

Political Science Department Hosts Conference on Middle East Politics

Dr. Ekrem Karakoc (SUNY BInghampton)
Dr. Ekrem Karakoc (SUNY Binghamton) presents at the After the Uprisings Conference

Michael W. Suleiman Chair and associate professor Sabri Ciftci hosted and organized a workshop at K-State entitled “After the Uprisings: Public Opinion, Gender, and Conflict in the Middle East” on May 5th.  The workshop provided a unique forum to discuss the current state of knowledge on politics in Middle East and was well attended by faculty, students, military personnel, and community members. The day long session was one of a series of events the department has planned to highlight the Suleiman Chair and the study of Arab and Middle Eastern issues at Kansas State University.

Continue reading “Political Science Department Hosts Conference on Middle East Politics”

General Richard Myers Co-Teaches KSU’s American Foreign Policy Class

General Richard Myers
General Richard Myers

Retired Air Force General and interim KSU President Richard Myers co-taught Kansas State University’s American Foreign Policy class with Michael Flynn, assistant professor in political science, this spring.

“The idea was for us to coordinate on a set of topics and spend the week talking about those topics from the perspectives of academics and practitioners,” Flynn said. “Myers’ lectures are a great opportunity to help students translate the ideas and principles that we discuss in class into practice. These different viewpoints are not something every college student can experience.”

“We will lecture on the same topic and our coverage overlaps in many respects,” Flynn said. “But where I offer a broader more macro view and supplement with data, Gen. Myers tends to offer more refined and detailed information on the process and his experiences.” Continue reading “General Richard Myers Co-Teaches KSU’s American Foreign Policy Class”

Nathaniel Birkhead Wins 2016 Commerce Bank and William T. Kemper Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award

Dr. Nathaniel Birkhead
Dr. Nathaniel Birkhead

Nathaniel Birkhead, assistant professor, was awarded the Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award this year. The Commerce Bank Award is a university wide recognition, which only one faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences receives annually. Dr. Birkhead teaches courses on American politics, focusing on Congress, the presidency and political participation. He is highly regarded as a dynamic, challenging and caring instructor. Not surprisingly, Dr. Birkhead’s courses are among the most popular in the department. Before coming to K-State, he was recognized as the associate instructor of the year for the department of political science at Indiana University in 2011.

Dr. Birkhead is a dedicated and accomplished scholar as well.  His current research examines executive vetoes at the US state level and ideological extremism and party polarization in the U.S.  Birkhead has published twice in the prominent journal Political Research Quarterly and his articles have also appeared in Legislative Studies Quarterly and American Politics Research.  His research has been sponsored by the Center for the American Governor at Rutgers University.

Sabri Ciftci Wins 2016 William L. Stamey Award for Undergraduate Teaching

Dr. Sabri Ciftci
Dr. Sabri Ciftci

Sabri Ciftci, Michael W. Suleiman Chair in Arab and Arab-American Studies in the Department of Political Science, received a 2016 College of Arts and Sciences William L. Stamey Award for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence. Dr. Ciftci is known for being a challenging instructor who cares a great deal about his students and their success. He uses a range of active learning techniques to enliven his instruction, and he goes to great lengths to help students understand cultural differences and grasp the importance of cultural tolerance in his classes.

Ciftci teaches courses on Middle Eastern Politics, Political Islam, Comparative Politics, and Research Methods for the department. Ciftci is a prolific scholar as well as a superb teacher. His research focuses on Islam and democracy, Arab public opinion, and Turkish foreign policy. His most recent projects examine anti-Americanism in the Middle East and religious tolerance. His scholarship has appeared in such highly visible journals as Comparative Political Studies, Political Research Quarterly, International Journal of Middle East Studies, and Foreign Policy Analysis.

Political Science Major Jessica Van Ranken Elected Student Body President

Student Body President Jessica Van Ranken and Student Body Vice President Trenton Kennedy
Student Body President Jessica Van Ranken and Student Body Vice President Trenton Kennedy


Jessica Van Ranken, junior in political science, was elected 2016-2017 KSU student body president. Trenton Kennedy, junior in entrepreneurship, was elected as the study body vice president.

Van Ranken and Kennedy took office on April 7, and began advocating for the three initiatives of their campaign: mental wellness, diversity and political advocacy. Continue reading “Political Science Major Jessica Van Ranken Elected Student Body President”

Political Science Students Nominated for Truman and Udall Scholarships

Sierra Lekie, junior in political science and economics, and Jill Applegate, senior in political science and Spanish, have been nominated for the 2016 Harry S. Truman Scholarship. The Truman Scholarship recognizes students with exceptional leadership potential who will pursue careers in public service, government, or the nonprofit sector.  It provides up to $30,000 in financial support for graduate school.  Four students from K-State were nominated, and we are extremely proud that Sierra and Jill were among them.

Jessica Gittemeier a sophomore in political science and pre-law was one of five students nominated by Kansas State University for the Morris K. Udall Undergraduate Scholarship. Awarded to only 60 students a year, the Udall Scholarship is a national undergraduate scholarship for students committed to careers related to the environment, tribal public policy or Native American health care. Udall Scholars are awarded up to $7,000.  Continue reading “Political Science Students Nominated for Truman and Udall Scholarships”

Political Science Alums Give Back by Sharing Expertise

Diane Patrick meeting with Dean Chakrabarti during her recent visit to campus
Diane Patrick meeting with Dean Chakrabarti during her recent visit to campus

We have wonderful alumni!  Many have been willing to give back to KSU by sharing their knowledge and experience with current Political Science students.  Four alums were kind enough to speak with students over recent months.

Diane Patrick (BA 1970) spoke to one of Dr. Schafer’s MPA courses about her extensive career in public service within both the public and non-profit sectors.  Diane not only led a major state agency in Kansas City through successful transformation, she supported a number of community development organizations affiliated with NeighborWorks America.  Diane also graciously shared insights from the career that her late husband, Bob Patrick, had as a public servant with the EPA. Continue reading “Political Science Alums Give Back by Sharing Expertise”

Tyburski Joins the Department

Michael Tyburski
Dr. Michael Tyburski

The department is pleased to welcome Michael Tyburski (assistant professor) to our faculty this fall.  Michael earned his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2014.  He was a member of the faculty at Tulane University for the past two years.  At KSU, Michael will teach courses on transnational security, the politics of developing nations, and international political economy.  His research, which focuses on transnational remittances and other international phenomenon, has already appeared in such prominent journals as the Journal of Politics, International Studies Quarterly, and Post-Soviet Affairs.

We are excited that Michael has become a Wildcat!

Political Science Honors Students at Scholarship Reception

Madushika Nadeeshani Weerasinghe and Dr. Franke
Madushika Nadeeshani Weerasinghe and Dr. Franke

The department held its annual scholarship reception on Friday, April 22, at the Manhattan Country Club.  Family, guests, donors, and faculty members joined our scholarship recipients and political science students for a lovely afternoon.  The department awarded $17,800 in scholarship funds to undergraduate students, $5,700 to graduate students, and $87,450 to graduate teaching assistants for the 2016-2017 academic year.  Graduate teaching assistantships also include over $76,433 in total tuition support.

The scholarships awarded recognize students for their academic achievements and support their continuing education. Ellen Crocombe, winner of the Reba L. Cobb Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Women in Political Science, expressed her thanks at being honored at the reception.  She remarked, “After the semesters of dedication I have put into the program, I can honestly say that I do not know a major that would fit my needs and passions better than Political Science. This scholarship will not only ease the burden of having to alter my attention away from school due to financial restrictions my senior year, but will bring my education into a new perspective.” A similar sentiment is expressed by Monica Macfarlane, an incoming graduate teaching assistant in the master of public administration program, who stated “I know that the Master of Public Administration Program here at Kansas State University is the best path to take toward my professional goals of working to resolve community issues. I am truly grateful to be awarded the opportunity to continue my educational journey at Kansas State University, as it will be an honor to work with the faculty that I have come to admire and respect.” Continue reading “Political Science Honors Students at Scholarship Reception”