Irwin Morris, current chair of the Department of Government and Politics and professor at the University of Maryland at College Park, has been named the new executive director of the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) at NC State. Morris received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Furman University. He then studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received his master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science. Prior to teaching at the University of Maryland, Morris was an assistant professor at Texas Tech University.
Morris’ initial research focused on monetary policy and the extent to which it is affected by the president and Congress. His interest has since shifted to the study of race and ethnic politics within a southern context. His research efforts have led to numerous publications in scholarly journals such as American Politics Research, Political Research Quarterly, American Journal of Political Science, and many more. He has also published books including The Rational Southerner: Black Mobilization, Republican Growth, and the Partisan Transformation of the American South and Reactionary Republicanism: How the Tea Party in the House Paved the Way for Trump’s Victory. Currently, he is working to publish his next book, titled Movers, Stayers, and the Partisan Transformation of 21st Century Southern Politics.
Goals for the School of Public and International Affairs
“It’s a very attractive place, where people are doing really good work,” said Morris as he reflected on the reputation of the School of Public and International Affairs. His main goal for SPIA is to emphasize the problem-solving skills that students learn in order to solve real-world problems.
“I hope that our program can help solve problems at the local, state and national levels,” he said. He hopes to expand the opportunities for students to succeed in careers at both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Ultimately, Morris hopes that as executive director he can further the outstanding work by students and faculty in SPIA to help make it an even greater “force for good.”
Advice to Political Science Students
“You have to think seriously about what you want to do and what problems you want to solve,” Morris said. His advice builds off his goals for SPIA. He hopes that students are able to answer that question in order to find their perfect careers. Regarding political science, Morris said, “I usually hear people want to be a political science major, but that is a pathway to a job, not a career choice.” When you intentionally think about your future, it provides you with the skill of being able to know what you need to learn in order to be successful. This is helpful, Morris says, even if you change your mind: the skills you gain will apply to any goal you set forth.