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Department of Political Science


ISU and the Political Science Department: A Brief History

1989 Graduating Class

Idaho State University was originally chartered on March 11, 1901 under the signature of Governor Frank W. Hunt as the Academy of Idaho. The Academy was divided into two schools: the Technical School and the Preparatory School. In 1915 its name changed to Idaho Technical College until 1927 when it was renamed The University of Idaho Southern Branch. Two years after the end of World War II the State Legislature voted to upgrade the Southern Branch from a two-year junior college to a full four-year Baccalaureate granting institution and its name changed to Idaho State College (ISC).

Political Science has been part of the school's offerings since the turn of the century when Jesse E. Retherford taught the subject at the Academy. It was not until 1947 that a B.A. was granted specifically in Political Science within the Division of Social Science. In 1959 the degree's name was changed to that of a B.A. in Government. Under the direction of Hobert P. Sturm, Idaho State College established an Institute of Government in March 1949. It was designed for citizens of Idaho and their public officials as a clearing house for discussion on current problems of government. Joseph Hearst served as chair during the turbulent period of the sixties. His widow, Priscilla Hearst, later became one of the stalwart patrons of the Frank Church Symposium on International Affairs while his daughter, Alice L. Hearst, currently teaches in the Department of Government at Smith College. John Eyre served as chair from about 1970 until Victor Hjelm took over in 1977.

Dr. Victor Hjelm was the Department of Political Science's fourth chair, leading the department from 1977-1980 and 1981-1984. He then became Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1984 and served until his retirement in 2001. Dr. Richard H. Foster, who served as Chair from 1980-1981 and from 1984-2005, has had the longest tenure as department chair. He also won the Most Distinguished Teacher Award. Since 1970s the Department has been home to the student-run International Affairs Council and the annual Frank Church Symposium on International Affairs, with Dr. Foster as its major advisor as well as program director for the International Studies program. The Frank Church Symposium, named after the late Idaho Senator Frank Church, brings foreign and American diplomats to Idaho State University.

It was in 1985 that Dr. Richard L. Bowen became the President of ISU, following Dr. Myron L. Coulter (1976-1985) and Dr. William E. Davis (1965-1975). President Bowen would have the longest tenure of any ISU President (1985-2005) and under his leadership the university grew significantly to its present size and status as a major regional teaching and research university.

The Department of Political Science moved to the top floor of the north wing of Graveley Hall in August of 2003. It currently is the fourth largest undergraduate and third largest graduate program in the College of Arts and Letters. We now have five full-time faculty, three adjunct faculty, one Visiting Professor, over 110 undergraduate majors, and over 45 graduate students. We continue to offer the BA, BS, MA, MPA, and DA degrees. Our student organizations include the Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society, the Law Club, and the ACLU Club. Our department and our programs are actively involved with the International Studies, American Studies, Women's Studies, and Secondary Education programs.

As we move into the second decade of the 21st century, ISU and the Department of Political Science continue to be dedicated to our missions. ISU is a broad-based regional public doctoral university committed to providing accessible, high quality education, and a full range of academic programs in the liberal arts and professional fields. ISU and the Department of Political Science remain dedicated to excellence in undergraduate and graduate teaching, research and scholarship, and to professional and public service. To learn more about the city of Pocatello and what there is to do, please visit this link.

Last Modified: 11/02/14 at 10:19:43 PM


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Pocatello, Idaho, 83209