William & Mary

McGlennon Passes the Torch...and the Mop

Last semester, Professor John McGlennon stepped down as the Chair of the Government Department after serving in the leadership role for 18 years. He began his 42-year long career at the College in 1974, and served as Chairman from 1993 – 2002 and 2007 – 2016. Outgoing Chair John McGlennon passes on the tools of power to his successor Paul MannaDuring his time as Chairman, he was a strong advocate for faculty, and opened a range of opportunities and hands-on experiences for students. Beyond that, he dealt with the joys of Morton basement on a daily basis, including the periodic flooding.....

Government faculty largely describe McGlennon as accessible, caring, and supportive. “No one in academia is trained to be a Department chair and it is very difficult to find people who are good at that job,” said Professor Chris Howard. “He’s efficient,” commented Professor Clay Clemens, “but amiable, and someone who always has the Department’s interest at heart.” In addition to his personal traits, faculty also highlighted McGlennon’s engagement with the broader college community. In particular, Professor Dan Maliniak noted “his deep institutional knowledge of the College and the incredibly strong commitment to the community and students.” Overall, what stands out most to both faculty and students is McGlennon’s enthusiasm about the Department, even today. “I don’t think anyone loves the Government Department more than Professor McGlennon,” said Professor Paul Manna, current Chairman of Government, “there is a great feeling when he talks and reflects on it.”

When asked about the evolution of the Government Department over the years, McGlennon is proud to say that it still “retains a strong commitment to small classes and rigorous education.” In the past two decades, the Department has grown by about a third in size (including faculty, students, and courses) and has served students across various interdisciplinary majors including International Relations, Public Policy, and Environmental Science and Policy. Professor Sue Peterson attributes this growth to McGlennon’s willingness to institutionalize student learning through research programs. “If it’s good for the students, he wants to support it,” she noted. These programs – the Bosnia Project, the Project on International Peace and Security (PIPS), and the Social Networks and Political Psychology (SNaPP) lab among many others – have enhanced collaboration between students and faculty and set a standard for future generations to uphold.

Moving forward, McGlennon’s legacy and the recent move to Tyler Hall have opened many doors for the Government Department. The new facility and technology available in Tyler have “fostered a more collaborative environment,” said Professor Rani Mullen. In the next few weeks, students in her seminar will be able to interact with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan via Skype, something that was nearly logistically impossible in Morton Hall. In terms of coursework, Manna noted a rising demand among students to participate in research and independent opportunities, and take coursework in “tools courses” focusing on quantitative methods. To lead these initiatives, professors are currently discussing how to go forward with the goal of supporting faculty in their scholarly work and excellent scholarly teaching. Regardless of how the future goes, McGlennon emphasized the Department’s goal to “help students see their time here as something they want to aspire for future generations.”