Richard Scher and Ken Wald Retire

Published: May 19th, 2016

Category: Department News, Featured, News

Two pillars of the Department, Professors Kenneth Wald and Richard Scher, are retiring this month. Ken and Richard have been members of the department for 33 and 44 years respectively, and they have touched the lives of thousands of students. Pasted below are the remarks made in their honor at the Department’s recent spring banquet.

If your life was touched by Richard and/or Ken, consider making a donation, even a small one, to the Political Science Fund in their honor:https://www.uff.ufl.edu/OnlineGiving/FundDetail.asp…

The funds will be used to ensure that the education of future political science students continues to meet the very high standards set by Richard and Ken.

Richard and Ken will be greatly missed. We wish them all the very best in their new careers as Professor Emeriti!

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Remarks made by Ido Oren, Department Chair, at the annual spring banquet on April 5, 2016.

In a poem titled “On Teaching,” included in his best-selling book The Prophet, the great Lebanese-American poet-philosopher Khalil Gibran wrote the following lines:

No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge.

The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.

If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.

Today we are recognizing two exceptional teachers who embody the very qualities that Khalil Gibran so beautifully described in his poem On Teaching. Richard Scher and Ken Wald, who will be retiring at the end of this term, have given their “faith and lovingness” to thousands of students. Richard and Ken have not planted their wisdom in the minds of their students. Instead, through their classroom lectures, their seminars, and, their mentoring over the years of numerous individual students, Ken and Richard have led their students to the threshold of the students’ own minds. Ken and Richard have helped generations of students discover that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of their own knowledge.

Let me now say a few words about each one of them, beginning, in alphabetical order, with Richard. Richard Scher has been affiliated with our department for no less than forty four years! During these years, Richard published six books, beginning with a 1980 book on Florida Gubernatorial Politics, that he coauthored with David Colburn, and culminating with a just-published book on political campaigns in the United States. Richard won multiple honors and awards including a Robin and Jean Gibson term professorship, an appointment as the John Marshal Chair of American Government in Hungary under the Fulbright program, a Choice Academic Title Award for his 2011 book on the Politics of Disenfranchisement, and the Professor of the Year Award. Richard made major service contributions to the Department and the College, including serving as graduate coordinator, undergraduate coordinator, and associate chair, and serving on the College’s T&P committee and curriculum committee. Additionally, Richard was not only an observer of politics but also a regular participant in political and public affairs. He has worked very closely with the national and regional news media as commentator and consultant over the years. He consulted state and local government agencies as well as candidates for political office. And he has served as expert witness numerous times in court cases involving voting rights and civil rights. Last but not least, Richard has been an outstanding educator. He regularly developed innovative new courses such as Race, Poverty, and Voting Rights; Politics Beyond the Beltway; Modern Political Campaigns; Money and Politics; the Politics of Food; and even the Politics of Jewish Food, which he is teaching this semester. I visited the Jewish food class last Thursday and Richard shared with the students delicious New York-style Pastrami that he cured, soaked, rubbed, and smoked himself. To borrow Gibran’s words again, over the years Richard has given his “faith and lovingness” to thousands of students, including some political office holders and presidential candidates whose names we all recognize and many others whose names we might not recognize but who nevertheless have gone on to do great things.

Richard, I would like to present to you a gift from the department, in deep gratitude for all you have done for the department, the college, and the university throughout your career (see picture).

Ken Wald started his teaching career at the University of Memphis and he joined our Department in 1983. Ken coauthored his first book when he was still an undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska in the early 1970s and he proceeded to author or edit five more books, including the leading textbook on Religion and Politics in the United States and a book on the political struggle for gay rights coauthored with our late colleague Jim Button and with Barbara Rienzo. Ken also has some 100 articles and book chapters to his name, and through this impressive body of scholarship he established himself as one the leading scholars of Religion and Politics as well as the politics of the American Jewish community. Over the years Ken received many honors and awards, including the rank of Distinguished Professor, the Bud Shorstein Professorship of American Jewish Culture and Society, the Shoshana Shier Distinguished Visiting Professorship of Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, a Career Achievement Award from the Southeastern Conference Academic Consortium, a UF Teacher-Scholar of the Year Award, and a CLAS Teacher of the Year award. In addition to being a prolific scholar, Ken somehow found the time and energy to make considerable service contributions to the Department, College, University, and profession. Ken served as undergraduate coordinator and graduate coordinator, followed by a five-year term as department chair and, later, a five year term as Director of the Center for Jewish Studies. He has served on the CLAS Tenure and Promotion committee and on many other College and University committees. In the early 1990s Ken was elected Chair of the Religion and Politics Section of the APSA and he has recently completed a three year term on the APSA Council. Last but not least, Ken has been a highly successful teacher and mentor to both graduate and undergraduate students. The number of University Scholars, McNair Scholars, honors students and graduate students that he has supervised and mentored over the years is mind-boggling. No less remarkable is the number of awards won by Ken’s mentees. In the approximately 15 years since we began giving our annual best paper and best theses awards, Ken’s students won four Best Honor Thesis Awards, five Best Undergraduate Paper awards, and four Best Graduate Student Paper awards. This remarkable record did not just happen by itself. It rather reflects Ken’s active efforts to reach out to promising students, encourage them to pursue research projects, and, if I may return once more to the beautiful words of Khalil Gibran, to lead these students to the threshold of their own mind.

So, for his great accomplishments as a teacher, scholar, and colleague, Ken Wald deserves our deep gratitude and I invite Ken to come forward to accept a token of our appreciation (see picture).

 

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