Donna Dove first came to the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1985 as the Department of Political Science undergraduate secretary. Soon after, she became the graduate program manager, working to support the Political Science masters and PhD programs and the Master of Public Administration program. This past spring, Donna received a 25 year award for her service to Political Science and the University. While several UMass employees reach this milestone each year, it is rare for a staff member to serve all 25 years in the same department.
What has kept Donna with political science for so long? The answer is simple: the students. Donna’s “kids,” as she likes to call them, represent over 330 students over her tenure as graduate program manager. “Of course,” Donna says, “the hardest part of my job is saying ‘goodbye’ to them when they receive their degrees and move on.” Yet she remains proud of all her graduates as they become professors at top teaching and research universities in the US including Duke, Washington, Williams, and Pittsburgh, as well as Otago (New Zealand) and Bogazlicki (Istanbul) internationally, among many others. “It is nice to know that I have played a small part in their success,” she reflects.
Over the years, Donna has seen technology transform the department: “When I came to the department, we had old word processors and dot matrix printers. We had to make ditto masters and stencils and put them on drums to make our copies. It was only a few years ago that I finally threw out the last of the stencils of Dean Alfange's law cases!” The ever-changing technology has been a constant source of inspiration for Donna, who served as one of the Department’s first webmasters and who designed the Department’s first graduate student database, documenting students spanning from 2011 back to the 1950s.
Beyond technology, however, the sheer growth of the department since Donna arrived has been amazing. In the past few years alone, the Department has hired nearly a dozen new faculty members, including those affiliated with the newly merged legal studies program. These new faculty have brought rigorous and methodologically innovative research portfolios that span traditional political science subfields and, along with the research agendas of existing faculty, engage some of the big questions in political science.
The current group of faculty, Donna says, are “highly motivated to move our department ahead.” Indeed, discussions about a five-year bachelor-master’s degree, the constant flow of awards and publications from graduate students and faculty, and three tenure-stream searches this semester alone serve as proof that further growth lies ahead.
- Department News/General