Matthew Howell belongs to a pretty select club. As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at Eastern Kentucky University, Matthew is one of few Missouri State Political Science majors who went on to earn a PhD.
According to Matthew, his biggest influence, bar none, was Joel Paddock, who told me what being a professor was really like. When I was thinking about my own PhD and working as a professor, he was the one who told me what I could expect in terms of teaching, research, different types of schools, and so on, and encouraged me to go for it. He was like my pre-PhD advisor. In terms of interests and subject matter, Denise Dutton and Mark Rushefsky were big influences. Mark got me interested in policy as a topic of study and Denise remains a big influence on my teaching style, even though I don’t do political philosophy. Also, just how much she clearly enjoyed her job got me thinking I might enjoy doing it myself.
The following bio was lifted from his EKU website – Matthew Howell.
Though Dr. Howell lived in many places during his childhood, he is mostly from the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri. As an undergraduate at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) he had dreams of being a lawyer and running for office one day. In the summer of 2003 he interned in the Capitol Building and discovered very quickly that he did not actually like working there, and lacked the patience and charm to be a good elected official. Around the same time, he discovered he didn’t enjoy the law much either. When he graduated, he traveled to the University of Kentucky to get a Masters of Public Policy, expecting to work for the State Department –but during an internship in the City of Paducah, Kentucky –rediscovered a love of studying local government. Dr. Howell returned to UK and started his PhD in Public Administration, and after graduating he came to work at EKU.
EKU was a near ideal fit because it allowed Professor Howell to do both the teaching and research he was interested in. That it was close to where he had lived for the previous 6 years was a bonus. As part of the MPA faculty, Professor Howell teaches Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation; which deals with understanding policies and programs and then designing experiments to determine if the policy works; and State and Local Politics. He also teaches American Government, Public Policy, and Urban Politics at the undergraduate level. One of his interests is trying different teaching techniques in the classroom, so Professor Howell likes to incorporate class discussions, seminars, simulations, and debates into his classes. In State and Local Politics he runs a semester long simulation of local government. Public Policy involves the creation and presentation of a full policy brief to elected officials to try to influence policy.
Urban politics and state and local government were what originally drew Dr. Howell into public administration and political science. He was interested in how cities formed and worked –and he was curious if the folk wisdom on display in city government was based in reality. To discover the truth about local government, Dr. Howell studies metropolitan government (large central cities with their surrounding suburbs and exurbs) formation. What does it take to form a new city or maintain an old one? He also studies the inter-city relationships that cities develop to determine how metropolitan areas governed despite having many local governments rather than one metro-wide government. He is also fond of novel research techniques, and so likes to tackle interesting or difficult statistical problems. Lately, he has been using social network analysis, which is a way of modeling the relationships of many people in a network.
Professor Howell enjoys traveling, having visited Scotland, Kenya, and Spain, in addition to most of the Upper Midwest and Mountain West and a large part of the South over the last decade. His special affinity is for Spain, which has wonderful history (the Armada incident excepted), excellent food (which has very little in common with Mexican food), three of his favorite painters (Francisco Goya, Diego Velasquez, and El Greco), two of the most beautiful Cathedrals in the world (St. James of Campostella and La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona), and his favorite Monastery (the Escorial outside of Madrid).
He says that school should be a time to try new things, both in taking classes and reading the classic works, but also in getting practical experience through travel and internships. After all, without a pair of internships, Professor Howell never would have found his vocation.