President’s Report

Presidents and Executive Politics Section
President’s Report (Dan Ponder)
APSA Annual Meeting
September 2020

The PEP section continues to thrive, albeit in an age of severe challenges emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic.  This year, building on the good work of past presidents Andy Rudalevige, George Krause, and Diane Heith, the officer corps of Dan Ponder, Meena Bose, and Brandon Rottinghaus sought to navigate a most unusual, indeed unprecedented, time.

Coordinating the PEP Micro-Conference, Evaluating the Presidency in the 21st Century, was one of the major tasks.  The call for papers led to the acceptance of nine intellectually rich and innovative proposals.  However, the conference, which had been scheduled for February 2021, has been rescheduled for some time in the Spring of 2022.  This will allow for more flexibility based on national efforts to control the virus, so the conference can proceed safely.  We continue to work with Lori Cox Han and her colleagues at Chapman University, as well as the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum.  Stay tuned for further developments!

PEP had an excellent set of panels that were presented virtually, thanks to the hard and diligent work of  APSA 2020 PEP Division Chair Lilly Goren.  Lilly, who is also the incoming Secretary/Treasurer, worked above and beyond the typical high demands that come with being a section chair, as schedule changes for panels, presenters, and logistics, usually completed by April, continued well into the summer.  One of the highlights was the very successful PEP Short Course on “Teaching and Talking About the Presidency in the Trump Era.”  Following panel presentations by scholars on incorporating study of the Trump administration into presidency courses as well as discussing the Trump presidency in public, on social media, and with journalists (both U.S. and international), some 45 scholars participated in breakout sessions to discuss syllabus development, class assignments, responses to media queries, and more. PEP extends special thanks and gratitude to course organizers Terri Bimes, Lara Brown, and Alison Howard for their extensive and painstaking work to develop this most instructive workshop for the section.

PEP also addressed issues of gender equity and representation, particularly (though not exclusively) for submission and publication patterns in scholarly journals.  For data on these trends, particularly underrepresentation of women and people of color publishing in scholarly journals, we reached out to the editors of Presidential Studies Quarterly and Congress and the Presidency, the two subfield journals most directly related to our discipline. The editors (George Edwards at PSQ and Jeffrey Crouch at C&P) were accommodating and enthusiastic in their willingness to help move the process along.  Both agreed to work with their respective publishers (Wiley; Taylor and Francis) to collect and report the requested demographic data on gender, race, and ethnicity, tracking patterns of both submission and publication.  The 2020-21 PEP officers will continue to work on this important task and follow up with both journals on their efforts.

We also would like to recognize Austin Trantham of Jacksonville University, who has taken on the important task of web czar.  He updated and modernized our website, and we thank him for his hard work and creativity.

All in all, 2019-20 was a successful year for PEP.  Even during the pandemic, membership levels generally held steady.  The future of the section is bright, as we have a steady cohort of graduate students who join our section and we hope will be active members for years to come.

Finally, we would like to recognize Yu Ouyang (Purdue University Northwest) as APSA 2021 PEP Division Chair, and, as mentioned, Lilly Goren (Carroll University), as incoming Secretary-Treasurer.  They join President Meena Bose of Hofstra University and Vice President Brandon Rottinghaus of the University of Houston, and I am especially grateful to all of them for agreeing to lead our section into the coming years.  These positions are always challenging and rewarding, and in a time of profound uncertainty, these colleagues’ willingness to continue to serve is testament to their dedication to our discipline. We are certainly in great hands for the foreseeable future.