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Remembering Howard J. Wiarda

Howard J. Wiarda, Professor Emeritus and formerly the Leonard J. Horowitz Professor of Iberian and Latin American Studies at U-Mass died on September 12, 2015, just 2 months shy of his 76th birthday.  He joined the U-Mass Political Science Department in the Fall of 1965 and retired in 2003 to become the founding Head of the Department of International Affairs at the University of Georgia and the Dean Rusk  Professor of International Relations. 

Professor Wiarda was a world-class scholar and major figure in the study of comparative politics and foreign policy.  He was a popular undergraduate and graduate teacher at U-Mass winning teaching accolades and was a mentor to countless undergraduate and graduate students as well as junior faculty.

Dr. Wiarda was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, grew up in Grand Rapids, and received his BA degree in History and Political Science at the University of Michigan in 1961 where he was editor of the student newspaper. He earned his Ph.D. degree in Political Science at the University of Florida in 1965.   

Professor Wiarda came to U-Mass directly from graduate school. He began as an Assistant Professor and quickly rose through the ranks to become a full professor at the age of 33 (a record unbroken for the Department) and one of the youngest in the history of the University to become a full professor.

While at U-Mass, he served as editor of Polity.  He was also the Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University and Chairman of the University’s Council for International Studies.   

A brief summary of  Professor Wiarda’s accomplishments cannot do justice to his energy, drive, consummate intelligence, and his  wonderful ability to communicate complex ideas.  He was an original and deep thinker whose reputation  rapidly grew not only among academics but among policy makers in and out of government.

Professor Wiarda was a Visiting Scholar/Research Associate at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University (1979-81, 1984-86, 1988-91) where he also directed the Faculty Comparative Politics Seminar.  From 1981-87 he was Resident Scholar and Founding Director of the Center for Hemispheric Studies at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington. He divided his time between Washington, D.C., Cambridge,  and Amherst, regularly teaching undergraduate and graduate courses for the Department and directing doctoral dissertations and fully participating in the life of the Department.   

Professor Wiarda served as Lead Consultant (1983-84) to the National Bipartisan (Kissinger) Commission on Central America, and  was also Thorton D. Hooper Fellow in International Security Affairs (1987-88) at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI).  He joined  the Center for Strategic and International Studies in 1992, becoming a Senior Associate.  In 2000 he was appointed Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

He served by appointment of the President of the United States on the Presidential Task Force on Project Economic Justice.  He was  a consultant and adviser to four presidents and a variety of private foundations, business firms, and agencies of the United States government including the Department of Defense,  the National Defense University, and the Center for Hemispheric Studies.

Professor Wiarda received grants from numerous foundations and programs including the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Fulbright Program (four awards), the Social Science Research Council, American Philosophical Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Institutes of Health, Pew Foundation, and the Twentieth Century Fund.  He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.  In 1988 he served on Vice President George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy advisory team. In 2012 he was inducted into the Order of Columbus by President Leonel Fernández of the Dominican Republic, his former student at U-Mass, for a “lifetime of service to and writing about the Dominican Republic.”

Dr. Wiarda was the author and/or editor of over 100 books and the author of over three hundred scholarly articles, book chapters, op eds, and congressional testimony.  Among his many books are The Dominican Republic: Nation in Transition (Pall Mall Press, 1969); Politics in Iberia: The Political Systems of Spain and Portugal (Harpercollins 1992);  Corporatism and Comparative Politics (Routledge 1996); The Soul of Latin America (Yale Press, 2003);  and Divided America on the World Stage: Broken Government and Foreign Policy (Potomac Books, 2009).  He also was co-author and editor with Dr. Harvey F. Kline (a former member of the Department) of the leading textbook Latin American Politics and Development (Westview Press, now in its eighth edition).

Professor Wiarda leaves his wife Dr. Iêda Siqueira Wiarda, herself a professional political scientist who taught at U-Mass and who also held the positions of Research Specialist at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia.  He also leaves three children and five grandchildren and many nephews and nieces including a nephew UMass Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Paul Siqueira.  His many close friends and former students in Amherst, Athens, Cambridge, Washington, and elsewhere will also miss him.

-- Professor Sheldon Goldman

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