President’s Report

Presidents and Executive Politics Section
President’s Report (Meena Bose) 
2021 APSA Annual Meeting
Seattle, Washington

The Presidents and Executive Politics (PEP) Organized Section has had a very productive year in 2020-21, despite the continuing challenges and restrictions with the COVID-19 pandemic.  Building upon the enduring contributions of past presidents Andrew Rudalevige, George Krause, Diane Heith, and Dan Ponder, the officer team of Meena Bose, Brandon Rottinghaus, and Lilly Goren advanced ongoing projects and identified, with recommendations from the PEP Steering Committee and Section, areas for future work. 

The first PEP Micro-Conference, Evaluating the Presidency in the 21st Century, will be hosted at Chapman University on February 17-18, 2022.  PEP recognizes with deep appreciation the leadership and institutional support of Chapman Political Science Professor and PEP member Lori Cox Han, who is Doy B. Henley Chair of American Presidential Studies and Director of Chapman’s Presidential Studies Program.  In addition to the conference sessions, hosting the conference at Chapman in February 2022 brings the special opportunity for participants to participate in events at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum that will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Nixon’s historic trip to China. 

In APSA 2021, PEP hosted 14 highly informative panels and roundtables, seven in person and seven virtually, thanks to the painstaking work of APSA 2021 PEP Division Chair Yu Ouyang, Purdue University Northwest.  Yu had the unique challenge of planning PEP events for the conference site in Seattle as well as for the virtual APSA platform, and patiently navigated numerous requests about logistics, rescheduling participation format, and much more from APSA and PEP members.  We are most grateful to Yu for taking on PEP Division Chair responsibilities in this complicated conference year. 

In addition to the conference sessions, Yu worked with Nancy Kassop, SUNY-New Paltz, and Scott McLean, Quinnipiac College, to develop a most timely and important virtual PEP Short Course on “Teaching the Presidency When Democratic Legitimacy Is Questioned.”  The short course included two scholarly panels – “Teaching About Constitutional Norms, Democratic Legitimacy and Popular Culture” and “Teaching About Political Movements, Identity Politics and Partisan Polarization” – as well as small-group breakout sessions and open discussion with all participants.  About 25 people participated in the short course as speakers or attendees, and PEP extends special thanks and gratitude to Yu, Nancy, and Scott for all of their work to make this learning opportunity possible for PEP and APSA.

At APSA’s recommendation, the 2021 PEP Steering Committee and Business Meetings took place virtually the week before the conference.  Because APSA’s platform was highly difficult to navigate, and required conference registration, the meetings were moved to Zoom, which permitted broader participation.  As of the meetings on September 22, 2021, PEP had 449 members [454 on 9/25/21] and a financially robust budget of $18,249, plus $14,443 in the Edwards Dissertation fund.  With no APSA 2021 reception, and no requests from members for conference support, the only section expenses were were for award plaques and mailing.

The PEP Steering Committee made two recommendations that members endorsed at the Business Meeting.  First, PEP will evaluate whether continuing the section newsletter is beneficial, given that many resources originally provided there, from articles and commentary in presidency studies to recent publication lists, are now available through numerous other platforms.  The section will consider whether a different scholarly resource would be more useful for members, such as one that highlights public-thinking research by PEP scholars and expands media and public attention to that research.  Second, PEP will review the section’s research awards, particularly whether the timing and eligibility for the Neustadt Best Reference Work on the Presidency, which has been awarded only three times — in 2010 and 2017 — should be broadened; and whether a new award, perhaps for an emerging scholar or a public-facing scholar, should be established.

Section members enthusiastically endorsed the Steering Committee’s nominations for the following PEP positions: Lara M. Brown, George Washington University, as Secretary-Treasurer; Matthew Beckman, University of California-Irvine, and William Howell, University of Chicago, for a second term on the PEP Steering Committee (2021-2024); and Alison Howard, Dominican University of California, and Yu Ouyang, Purdue University Northwest, for a first term on the PEP Steering Committee (2021-2024).

NOTE: As approved in the 2020 PEP Business Meeting, the following schedule will be followed for membership on the PEP Steering Committee.  In 2022, four Steering Committee members will complete a second term, and two members will complete a first term.  In the 2022 PEP meetings, two new Steering Committee members should be invited, with the plan of serving for two terms.  This will establish a rotation of two new members and two second-term members annually, starting in 2024.

In 2023, one Steering Committee member will complete a second term.  In the 2023 PEP meetings, four new Steering Committee members should be invited, with the plan of having two people serve a single term and two people serve for two terms.  After this meeting, the member rotation noted above, and approved in the 2020 PEP Business Meeting, will be set.

The section recognizes and thanks Austin Trantham, Jacksonville University, for his diligent work as PEP webmaster.  Austin administers all section updates on the website and recently added a Presidential Studies Quarterly tab for members to access issues easily.  We greatly appreciate Austin’s time and effort to maintain the PEP website, and we extend our gratitude to him for responding promptly and helpfully with all website requests.

Finally, we would like to recognize Donna Hoffman, University of Northern Iowa, as APSA 2022 PEP Division Chair, and, Lara M. Brown, George Washington University, as incoming Secretary-Treasurer.  They join President Brandon Rottinghaus, University of Houston, and Lilly Goren, Carroll University.  We appreciate their leadership and dedication to presidency studies, which instill confidence in PEP’s continuing scholarly contributions to APSA, political science, and public life.