Political scientist awarded Congressional Fellowship
April 6, 2001
KALAMAZOO -- A Western Michigan University political scientist will experience the workings of the U.S. Congress firsthand later this year as a recipient of a prestigious Congressional Fellowship.
Dr. Neil A. Pinney, associate professor of political science and director of WMU's Institute of Government and Politics, was selected for the American Political Science Association's 2001-02 Congressional Fellowship Program. Now in its fifth decade, the Congressional Fellowship Program is a highly selective, nonpartisan program that annually gives nearly 40 early- to mid-career professionals fellowships to gain hands-on knowledge of and experience with the U.S. Congress. Pinney received one of the five fellowships reserved for political scientists and is the first WMU scholar to be chosen for the program.
"This is a very prestigious honor for Neil and for Western Michigan University," says Dr. David G. Houghton, chairperson of WMU's Department of Political Science.
Pinney will spend nearly a year in Washington, D.C., working as a legislative aide with members of Congress in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. He will engage in such activities as drafting legislation, arranging congressional hearings and writing speeches and floor statements. While there, Pinney hopes to have the opportunity to work with the House Ways and Means and the Senate Finance committees, as it will allow him to continue his research and study of the American tax system.
"This is a dream come true for a scholar in my field," says Pinney. "You truly get a practitioner's perspective of the democratic process. It's not only an amazing opportunity for me, but for the University as well because of the experience it will bring to the classroom."
Pinney was chosen from a pool of applicants by an advisory committee comprised of several current and former legislators, including former Senate leader Robert Dole and former Speaker of the House Thomas Foley. David Broder of the Washington Post, and Cokie Roberts of ABC News and National Public Radio also are part of the advisory committee. Pinney was selected based on his contributions to the discipline, the quality of his published and presented work, and letters of recommendation, one of which came from Rep. Fred Upton.
This is the first time Pinney had applied to the program and admits surprise at having been accepted.
"This is the brass ring in my field and I never thought I would get it the first time I applied," he says. "The Fellows are people who are established in their careers and known for their contributions to the field. To receive this is a real recognition of your hard work. I am really proud of this accomplishment and what I'll be able to bring back to the University."
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