Dr. D.C. Shilling
Time at Western Michigan University: 1921-52
Dr. Shilling arrived at WMU in 1921 and taught all of the political science courses for the Department of Social Sciences. He established the Department of Political Science in 1926, when the administration decided to have four separate social science departments. At this time he was joined by Drs. Santoro and Weber. President Waldo appointed him head of the department.
Many WMU affiliated entities invited him to speak at their events and lively discussions occurred afterwards. He gave countless speeches representing the university and department across campus during his career. Initial political science courses were designed to create good American citizens; however, Dr. Shilling challenged his students to critically think about issues. He often lectured about nationalism, imperialism, and internationalism and their connection to each other. His rational impression and frequent mentioning of fundamental principles truly helped students cope with attacks on the democratic way of life. The Sigma Tau Gamma Chapter granted him lifetime membership for their appreciation of his efforts in helping them achieve national organization status. He attended many WMU functions with his wife Zoa.
As an active member of the faculty council he led a campus campaign to improve the pre-professional curricula. In his opinion, WMU advanced further in all academic areas compared to other campuses he had visited. He celebrated the cooperation and relationship between the students and faculty. According to Dr. Shilling, WMU was a great place to prepare students for teaching positions.
He held other positions beside department chair: member of City Planning Commission (22 years), member of Zoning Board of Appeals (6 years), member of the First Methodist Church Board, director of Michigan Society of Municipal Planning Officials, and member of the Board of Trustees at Bronson Hospital. Appointed by two different governors, one a democrat and the other republican, he served on state commissions on merit systems and reform and modernization of government.
He contributed many articles and texts to the political science field. His articles “Some Aspects of Constitution Making in Michigan” and “Constitutional Requirements for Teaching Civics in the Secondary Schools of United States,” were repeatedly referenced by scholars in his time. His high school text,“Fundamentals of Citizenship” became a standby for many educators as well. He was an active member of the American Political Science Association providing his expertise alongside other political scientists. He remained active on campus until his death in 1956.
He earned his B.A. degree from Miami University, Ohio, his MA from the University of Wisconsin, and his doctorate from Northern Ohio University. Prior to teaching at Western Michigan University, he taught at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois.
“…a scholar who still believes that intelligent opinions and decisions are based upon sound knowledge of the subject matter…” Shilling’s former student—Leonard Gernant to the Kalamazoo Gazette (May 18, 1952).
The D.C. Shilling Junior and Senior Awards are presented to outstanding junior and senior political science majors for excellence in scholarship and academic performance.