Professor of Political Science, Associate Dean of Curriculum
The first presidential race Pat Sellers remembers was in 1972, when his brothers collected bumper stickers and buttons from Richard Nixon and George McGovern. A high school government class sealed the deal. He continued to follow this passion atDavidson, where great professors fanned the flame, and he received high honors for his thesis on negative advertising in political campaigns.
Before heading to Duke for graduate school, he went right to work on the congressional campaign of D.G. Martin '62, and then worked in the U.S. House with Rep. James McClure Clarke (D-N.C.11). "Both jobs allowed me to practice what I had learned in the classroom."
In 2009, Sellers added his second book, Cycles of Spin: Strategic Communication in the U.S. Congress, to a long list of publications on his curriculum vita, opening "the inner circles of spin for all to see," as one reviewer put it.
Today, the political science professor has added a new title to his résumé-Davidson's first associate dean for curriculum. With a reduced teaching load-"the only drawback"-he is working with colleagues to implement the curricular initiatives in the college's strategic plan.
Back to the Future
How would he approach that 1986 honors thesis in a curriculum that emphasizes both breadth and depth, and crosses boundaries between disciplines? "I'd take a class with Greta Munger about how people respond to different visual images, and a class in econometrics . I'd apply for a Kemp Scholarship to travel around the U.S. and interview election campaign managers-and I'd apply for a Dean Rusk International Studies Program grant to Europe or South America and see how my ideas fit campaigns in those regions."
Both Sides Now
Today's students are entering a world in which information is extensive, intertwined, and overwhelming. "We need to show students how to make sense of that information and transform it into knowledge," Sellers says. "As both a student and a teacher, I've witnessed the transformative power of a Davidson education, and look forward to helping shape the curriculum to help students meet the challenges of the 21st century."