A major first in Hamline history

Political Science professor David Schultz was recently named Hamline’s first Distinguished University Professor.

Kelly Holm, Senior Reporter

Professor David Schultz had recently skimmed over an email from Hamline’s administration, which stated that they “were thinking about creating a distinguished professor award, or something like that.” In his own words, Schultz admitted that he didn’t pay attention to it. After all, the autumn of a presidential election year makes for a very busy time for Schultz, an internationally renowned elections forecaster who has taught Political Science at Hamline for over 20 years.

But he was definitely paying attention when two weeks after that initial email, he learned that he would receive the honor in question.

“[Such awards are] usually… for professors with lifetime achievement, or who have excelled in lots of different ways, but Hamline has never had one, [and] has never given one out in its entire history,” Schultz said. “President Miller calls me, she said that ‘I wanted to let you know that I would like to name you our first Distinguished Professor at Hamline’… I was completely surprised.”

After soliciting several nominations from program deans, President Miller selected Schultz to receive the Distinguished University Professorship with unanimous support from the Board of Trustees. Miller said that Schultz was chosen based on a successful multi-decade career in academia and an acclaimed history within the fields of political and legal studies.

“He has a stellar academic record and is an expert, as indicated by his many speaking requests and expert commentary, in political science and the law,” Miller said in an email interview. “The expectation is that he will continue his high level of scholarship and recognition as a public intellectual. He already participates in the university in very significant ways — Leo Lectures, university lecture, lectures to alum and board of trustee members, public commentary on key issues.” 

Most recently, Schultz delivered a lecture about the impacts that both the COVID-19 pandemic and the killing of George Floyd have made on this election season’s political climate. He does an average of 500 media interviews per presidential-election year and addresses numerous community groups and conventions, including one organized by Hamline alumnus and trustee John Packard, the CEO of trade publication Steel Market Update.

“We follow all of the trends impacting the economy. We conduct the largest steel conference in the Western Hemisphere,” Packard said in an email interview. “When pressed to find the finest speaker and expert on the United States elections we reached out to Dr. Schultz… we are only one of a larger network of organizations and media outlets who crave insights into events that will affect the economy and our daily lives. Dr. Schultz is a nationally recognized expert who can clearly articulate where we should focus our attention, and to provide the most likely forecast based on analysis of the data being collected.”

Additionally, Schultz holds adjunct professorships at both Mitchell Hamline and the University of Minnesota School of Law and finds the time to advise Hamline’s chapters of the College Democrats and conservative student group Turning Point USA. He aims to make politics accessible to all manners of audiences.

One of the things that I take seriously is the idea of trying to be a public scholar,” Schultz said. “How do I take a lot of what I do and translate it into language, and into stuff to reach a broader public?”