Missouri State University
Political Science Blog

Anticipating Godzilla: Students Apply Disaster Management Lessons

Students in the PLS355/772 course had a chance to apply the lessons learned in a simulated disaster environment. The goal of the simulation is to provide some experience in managing incidents as they would occur in the real world without the danger to themselves or the public. The class is split into an incident response team from various agencies and team staffing the emergency operations center. The first session was a scenario of a hazardous materials leak endangering the city. The groups switch roles and were challenged with a building explosion and high rise fire. The students were received guidance from members of partnering agencies such as the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management and Mercy EMS. Our special guest was PLS alum Warren Robinson, MPA who is currently serves as the Director of Jefferson County (MO) Office of Emergency Management.

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Dr. Gabriel Ondetti Studies the Politics of Taxation

Having earned a sabbatical leave, Dr. Gabriel Ondetti is currently in Mexico City conducting research on the politics of taxation. In the picture he is standing in front of the Chamber of Deputies, Mexico’s version of the U.S. House of Representatives. Dr. Ondetti’s research project, which also encompasses Argentina, Brazil and Chile, tries to shed light on why some governments tax their citizens more heavily than others. He was in Argentina and Chile this past summer and he will be going to Brazil next summer. In each country he is conducting interviews with legislators, executive branch officials, tax experts and business and labor leaders. His research is supported by grants from the American Philosophical Society and the American Political Science Association.

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Tray Abney is Not James Carville or Karl Rove (Despite of Himself)

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I spent several afternoons and evenings studying at the end of Strong Hall’s third floor hallway, right outside the Political Science Department door. I would often stare at the bulletin board there, with its various grad school program flyers attached to it. My eyes always stopped on the George Washington University piece. The Graduate School of Political Management. The school for professional politics. Four blocks from the White House. For a political nerd who had worked on several state and local campaigns in Missouri, I knew that GW was my next stop.

I was accepted into the program, going to school at night and working on the Hill during the day. GW was an awesome experience, as we got to learn from professors who ran their own consulting and ad firms during the day and taught us the tricks of the trade at night. We had lecturers and guest speakers from all across the political spectrum and I made friends from all over the country. And the world.

After faxing my resume out all over the Hill, I landed a job as an entry-level staff-assistant in the office of a Nevada congressman. This occurred even though I had never been to Nevada before in my life. I was able to learn about and engage with a part of the country that was brand new to me. And I loved it. Long story short, I worked my way up in that office until my boss ran for Governor in 2006. I was heavily involved in that campaign and lived on a Las Vegas floor for the last month of that race. We were successful and I moved my family to Reno to work as the Governor’s new Legislative Director for the State legislative session. And I had never been engaged in the Nevada legislative process in my life. We had a successful session and, a few months later, I had the opportunity to become the Director of Government Relations for The Chamber of Reno, Sparks, and Northern Nevada. And I am still here to this day.

Our chamber of commerce has 2,000 members of all types, sizes, and industries. And it is my job to represent them all to our local councils and commissions, to the State Legislature, and to our federal representatives. It has been, and continues to be a great ride. The best part is that I get to meet business owners from all walks of life and assist them in making it easier to operate, hire more people, and enhance our region’s economic vitality. One of our challenges here is to diversify our economy beyond the gaming and construction industries that have been so critical to our success here. I have really enjoyed being a part of re-branding and re-creating our region. Unlike DC, I can actually see the results of my activities here and it has been very fulfilling.

This job has allowed me to participate in discussions that have statewide ramifications in terms of education, taxes, and other public policy issues. In 2014, most of my time was spent advocating against a statewide ballot initiative that would have devastated our small businesses via a poorly conceived tax plan. We won, but it is now incumbent upon us to institute a tax policy that actually works.

While I used to be terrified to speak in public, I now am asked to speak to Rotary and other groups all of the time about what we do here. I get to be a pundit on television and radio and my Board and membership look to me for insight and advice.

When I left Springfield, I thought I was going to be the next campaign guru like Carville or Rove. I hated the public policy and governing aspect of this field, I just wanted to beat the “other guy” and then move on to the next campaign. I have gone through a metamorphosis of sorts and am now very passionate about getting the policy right and am frustrated as hell about the campaigns and politics. I have been reminded time and again that the main purpose of political parties is to elect more of their folks than the other folks (thanks Dr. Paddock), and not to be bastions of truth, justice, and the American Way. Frankly, I am sick of both of them.

I would urge current students to be passionate, but not strident. To listen a lot more than they talk. To rise above the ideologues, publicity seekers, and those with axes to grind. The profession of politics is a noble one, if far too often ridiculed and demeaned, even by those who practice it. You will go on to do important things and become important people. Your classes are helping you right now to engage in blunt, honest, but respectful discourse with others. The only time you won’t have to compromise is when everyone in the room agrees with you. And I haven’t found that room yet.

While I joke that I have no marketable skills whatsoever, this degree will give you a great foundation to tackle the problems that we face. I greatly enjoyed and appreciated my time at (Southwest) Missouri State University and will forever be grateful for the professors there. Except for Dr. Connor (Who was good-natured enough to post this anyway).

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Alumni Trent Sims Making a Difference

A nice feature by Jess Rollins in the Springfield News Leader on PLS alumni Trent Sims.


Trent earned his BA in 2011. After working for Habitat for Humanity, he joined the Community Partnership of the Ozarks (http://www.commpartnership.org/) where he is the Director of Community Collaborative Initiatives.


Let’s give him a “collective” round of applause.

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Internationellt forskarutbyte i statsvetenskap

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Besöket finansierades med internationaliseringsmedel. Dr. Scott diskuterade distansutbildning med MIUN:s statsvetare samt föreläste om experimentella forskningsdesign inom offentlig politik och management. Dessutom, träffade han doktorander och juniora forskare för att diskutera publiceringsstrategier och höll en föreläsning för de förvaltningsjuridiska studenterna om motsättningar och spänningar inom offentlig förvaltning.

If your Swedish is a little rusty…

Patrick Scott, professor of political science and public administration at Missouri State University, visited Mid-Sweden University, campus Östersund October 20-25. This was a visit that was made possible by an internal grant aimed at promoting internationalization. Dr. Scott shared his experiences on online education with faculty members of the discipline of political science and gave a lecture on using experimental design in public policy and management research for the master students. He also held a roundtable discussion on publication strategies for PhD students and junior researchers and guest lectured on the tensions and contradictions of public administration as a developing field of inquiry.

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On the Other Side of the Ball: Harrison Menke Moves from Offense to Defense

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A Bear football player during my time at MSU, I earned my BS degree in Political Science in May 2013. After graduation, I enrolled in Missouri State’s Defense and Strategic Studies (DSS) Graduate program in Washington, DC. Perhaps relatively unheard of in back home, DSS is becoming a highly valued graduate degree and offers the chance to learn from some of Washington’s finest. Unlike other programs in the area, DSS’s professors are still highly active in the fields they teach. For example, I recently completed a missile defense course taught by Dr. Peppino DeBiaso, Director at the Office of Missile Defense Policy. Department Head Dr. Keith Payne, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Forces Policy, is highly respected inside the Beltway and is considered by many to be the foremost expert on nuclear deterrence and weapons policy. While there is certainly a “nuclear flavor” to DSS, there are a wide variety of classes one can choose from, including studies on chemical and biological warfare, Russia, East Asia, intelligence/counterintelligence, cyber warfare, and strategic culture.

Because of the competitive atmosphere here in DC, getting a few internships under your belt is vital. During my time at the American Foreign Policy Council, The Heritage Foundation, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies I had the chance to work with some of the nation’s top national security experts. Don’t let my think-tank centric experience throw you off; there are tons of internships available. One can seek out opportunities on the Hill, in the government, or private enterprises (A little advice: come into DC with a strategic game plan when selecting your internships, particularly those in government as you often have to apply in the summer. Some could offer a security clearance, which is a huge professional advantage). These internships allow students to make valuable connections and gain insight into the innerworkings of policy and research development. Just to be clear, DSS does not give you internships. However, our staff is great and works hard to hunt down new opportunities. Just this week internships at National Defense University’s Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Center for Applied Strategic Learning were posted.

In addition to internships, I have published a handful of articles in outlets such as Defense News, Real Clear Defense, and US News & World Report on topics ranging from combat drones in Africa to missile defense in East Asia: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2013/11/12/nato-is-passing-the-buck-to-the-us-on-missile-defense, http://dailysignal.com/2014/08/11/nuclear-weapons-deserve-priority/

I was also fortunate enough to be selected as a Heritage George C. Marshall Fellow, received the Rumsfeld Foundation Fellowship scholarship award, and become a member of groups like the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, Center for International Maritime Security, and Project on Nuclear Issues. For anyone thinking about enrolling in DSS, these programs are great for networking and a potential for publications. Worst case scenario you get a great dinner once or twice a month.

To be sure, the transition for Missouri was difficult. DC is fast paced and expensive. However, DC offers experiences you cannot find anywhere else in the world. For their part, DSS has given me the tools I need to exceed professionally. We are a tight-knit group, and most DSS alum will bend over backwards to help you out. I would highly recommend taking a look at DSS if you’re thinking about a career in international relations, security studies, or defense.

–Go Bears

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Alumni Jerome Johnson and Kevin Fuchs Visit Springfield

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Dr. Dennis Hickey and his wife enjoyed a wonderful dinner at a local restaurant with two former graduate students last week–Jerome Johnson and Kevin Fuchs. Jerome is now working for the Department of Homeland Security as an Immigration Specialist, while Kevin is a middle school teacher at Instituto San Roberto in Monterrey, Mexico. It is always nice to see our graduates when they come back to Springfield (or when faculty are traveling)!

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College Dinner Brings Together Generous Donors and Grateful Scholarship Winners

The 2015 College of Humanities and Public Affairs Scholarship Dinner brought together donors and scholarship winners. In addition to the renewal of old friendships, we were especially honored to award two new scholarships in political science this year.

With a generous donation from MSU alumni Bob, Calvin, Steve and Cynthia (Holden) Hartman, we awarded the inaugural Lee and Wanda Holden Scholarship to Juli Baldridge. The Holden award was created to recognize students with a demonstrated potential for public service; emulating qualities instilled in the students of Professors David Heinlein and Alice Bartee.

Continuing a long history of support for the College and the department, we were pleased to award the first Robert (Tony) and Lynette Foster Scholarship in Political Science to Kaylee Trost.

In addition to these scholarships, Holly Harris was awarded the Curl Scholarship, EmmaLee Smothers was awarded the David Heinlein Scholarship, Audre Barrett was awarded the Frank Dinka Scholarship, Tyrel Floyd was awarded the Frank Mazzella Scholarship, Frederick Waife was awarded a Strong Family Graduate Scholarship, Matthew Carodza was awarded the Alice Bartee Scholarship, Jacob Hannah was awarded the Kant Patel Scholarship, and Ebony Gibbs was awarded the Olivia Bischler Scholarship.

We thank all of our generous supporters and congratulate all of our scholarship winners.

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Students Tyrel Floyd, Juli Baldridge, Mathew Cardoza, and Kaylee Trost – MSU President Clif Smart with EmmaLee Smothers

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Patty Ingle, from the MSU Foundation, with Alora and Mariana Mazzella – MSU VP Ken McClure and Governor Bob Holden

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Bob Holden, with Jim Moyer and Lyn and Parker Foster – Drs. Wayne Bartee and Kant Patel

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Where Are They Now – Tony Simones

Former professor, pre-law advisor, and Phi Alpha Delta sponsor, Dr. Anthony Simones, has been Manager of Judicial Education and Programming for the Office of State Courts Administrator since August 2011. After eight years of teaching in Georgia, he returned to Missouri because his wife, Shawntay, wanted to start a family in her home state. They now have a fifteen month old daughter, Mary Margaret Gracyn.

As Manager of Judicial Education, Tony is responsible for educational programming for the state’s judges, juvenile officers, court clerks and court reporters. In addition, he is working with the Supreme Court’s Civic Education Committee, creating presentations for judges to make, as well as writing and producing videos dealing with legal issues. His latest effort is “The Battle of Skokie,” dealing with a landmark First Amendment confrontation: http://www.courts.mo.gov/civiceducation/pages/home.html

He would love to hear from former students and can be reached at Anthony.Simones@courts.mo.gov.

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Vladislava Petrova Nears the End of her PhD Studies

Always interested in International Relations, after graduating with a Master degree in International Affairs and Administration (now MGS) from MSU in 2004, Vladislava spent a year in Melbourne, Australia as an Ambassadorial Scholar for Rotary International. Upon her return to Missouri she worked for two and a half years as an exchange lecturer at MSU and Drury University, where she taught diverse undergraduate courses.
In 2009 Vladislava returned back to school for her PhD degree at Southern Illinois University. She is now preparing for the defense of her dissertation titled “Helping Others or Helping Oneself? NGO Coordination and its Consequences” in Spring 2015. While at SIU, Vladislava was awarded a Dissertation Research fellowship and in 2013 together with Dr. Stephen Bloom she published her article “National Subversion of Supranational Goals: ‘Pork-Barrel’ Politics and EU Regional Aid” in Europe- Asia Studies. She is excited to finish her studies and is ready for new challenges as she is re-locating back to Europe.

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