Rene Rocha, professor in the University of Iowa Department of Political Science and faculty director of the Latina/o/x Studies program, has been named the Herman J. and Eileen S. Schmidt Chair, effective July 1, 2021. The chair is the only named, endowed faculty position at the UI designed to support and recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching, mentoring, and curriculum development.
Sara Sanders, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said Rocha is a perfect fit for the prestigious appointment.
"The Schmidt Chair advances excellence in teaching,” Sanders said, “and Professor Rocha is an outstanding teacher. He is dedicated not only to his students' academic success, but also to their personal growth as individuals. This appointment is richly deserved, and on behalf of our entire college, I congratulate Rene on his success.”
Rocha joined the UI faculty in 2006. A leading scholar of racial and ethnic politics in the United States, his articles are regularly published in influential journals, including The Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, Policy Studies Journal, American Politics Research, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, and Review of Policy Research. He mentors students at all levels in conducting research, and teaches courses such as "Introduction to the Politics of Race" and “Immigration Politics”. Rocha has directed the interdisciplinary Latina/o/x Studies program for four of the past five years. His research has received prestigious recognition in his field, including awards from the American Political Science Association, the Midwest Political Science Association, the Western Political Science Association, and the Southwestern Political Science Association.
The Schmidt Chair was established by a gift to the University of Iowa Center for Advancement by the estate of Herman J. “Herm” and Eileen Schmidt of Greenwich, Connecticut. Herman was a native of Davenport, Iowa, who earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the UI in 1938. He and Eileen desired that the chair be awarded to a faculty member in any CLAS department who demonstrates a priority and emphasis on teaching undergraduates. Named, endowed chairs are the university's highest honor for faculty.
The UI acknowledges the UI Center for Advancement as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university.