Sheldon Goldman’s remarkable career is marked by inspired teaching, high scholarly achievement, exemplary mentoring, and committed leadership of our field.
Professor Goldman completed his undergraduate work at NYU (with honors), did his graduate work at Harvard, and has spent his entire professional career at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. At UMass-Amherst he has been a multiple recipient of outstanding teaching awards and was voted Best Professor by students in the campus newspaper. In 2004 he was recognized with a Chancellor’s Medal and Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Award.
Most of us, however, know him through his extraordinary, rigorous, and influential research. In the 1960s he was one of the first to seek to broaden the study of the workings of the judiciary beyond traditional public law approaches and topics. His 1966 and 1975 American Political Science Review articles on decision making in the U.S. Court of Appeals paved the way for future studies of lower federal courts, thus helping to break up the Supreme Court’s monopoly on our attention and making ours a field of Law and Courts. He was among the first to explore the use of systems theory to the analysis of the federal courts, and has done the most systematic work on the importance of the personal attributes of those judges.
Maybe most notably, Professor Goldman is unquestionably the premier scholar in the country on the identification, appointment, and confirmation processes for the selection of federal judges. In 1978 he began what became a biennial series of articles in Judicature, and this series has become the leading source of information for students of federal judicial selection. This decades-long work culminated in the publication of the instant classic, Picking Federal Judges. The work is known for its comprehensive data collection, meticulous analysis, diverse methods, and good judgment. Professor Goldman has also been an important and conspicuous contributor to public understanding of this subject, with commentary and analysis that stands in stark contrast to the partisans who dominate the news coverage of this process. Few members of our field have done so much to bring the insights of scholarly research to a broader public.
Professor Goldman has served our field in many capacities, including as head of the Law and Courts Section. His friends and colleagues regard him with great affection and respect. He is a model of civility, grace, professionalism, and collegiality, providing encouragement and support to his colleagues while downplaying his own accomplishments. We are grateful for the opportunity to honor such a treasured colleague with the Law and Courts Section’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Lifetime Achievement Award honors a distinguished career of scholarly achievement and service to the Law and Courts field. Nominees must be political scientists who are at least 65 years of age or who have been active in the field for at least 25 years. Nominations from previous competitions are carried forward to the current year’s competition. The committee retains nominations for 3 years, but one may re-nominate an individual and renew materials in the file. Committee members may not make nominations for the award.
Previous winners of the award are:
Beverly Blair Cook
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