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Stewart named head of political science department

Charles Stewart
Charles Stewart

Professor Charles Stewart III, a political scientist with expertise in legislative politics , American political development and voting procedures and technology, has been named the new head of the MIT political science department, effective January 1, 2005.

In making the announcement, Philip S. Khoury, Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) and Professor of History, said he was "extremely pleased. Having worked with Charles in recent years in his capacity as associate dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, I am sure that he will bring the same excellent leadership to the department that he has exercised on behalf of the school."

Stewart, who served as associate dean of SHASS since February 2001, came to MIT in 1985. He received the Everett Moore Baker Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 1989, was elected to the second class of MacVicar Faculty Fellows in 1993 and received a Class of 1960 Innovation in Education Award in 2000. He has been the undergraduate officer in political science since 1993 and has been the faculty director of the MIT Washington Summer Internship Program since he helped found it in 1994. Along with his wife, Kathryn M. Hess, Stewart has been housemaster of McCormick Hall since 1992.

Stewart said he is "excited by this opportunity to help lead a great department of international standing. From the moment I first walked into the place, over twenty years ago, I've known it to be supportive of the unique strengths of each of its students and faculty.

"We have a history of department heads who have nurtured this supportive environment, which is unusual among major research-oriented political science departments. My only hope is that I can keep this tradition alive, to help support the intense curiosity of the people who have come to work and study here," he said.

His courses include Introduction to Congressional Politics, The Political Science Laboratory, Public Policy Seminar for Washington Interns and the Field Seminar in American Politics.

Since 2000, Stewart has been a participant in the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, in which he has concentrated on analyzing the policy implications of the rise of absentee and early voting in the United States, in addition to estimating the number of votes that go uncounted in presidential elections due to shortcomings in voting technologies.

In the aftermath of the 2004 election, he has taken a leading national role in providing background commentary for what has often seemed like inconsistencies in the vote count in states such as Florida and Ohio.

Stewart received the B.A. from Emory University in 1979 and the S.M. (1981) and Ph.D. (1985) from Stanford University.

Stewart has been active in faculty governance, including serving on the HASS Overview Committee (1993-94, 2002-05), chairing the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (1995-97), serving on the Task Force on Student Life and Learning (1996-98) and recently serving as associate chair of the presidential Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons and chairing the Working Group on the HASS Requirement.

Khoury also acknowledged his personal gratitude to Joshua Cohen, Goldberg Professor of Humanities and professor of political science and philosophy, "for his eight years of inspired leadership of the department. We all wish him all the best as he begins a much-deserved leave in advance of his return full time to the Philosophy Section and the Political Science Department."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 12, 2005 (download PDF).

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