Rene Rocha named Herman J. and Eileen S. Schmidt Chair

The Schmidt Chair is the university's only named, endowed chair recognizing undergraduate teaching
Monday, August 2, 2021

Rene Rocha, University of IowaRene 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 by the university and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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.”

Named, endowed chairs are the university's highest honor for distinguished faculty. The Schmidt Chair is the only chair at Iowa designed to support and recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching, mentoring, and curriculum development.

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 philanthropic gift to the UI 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 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences department who demonstrates a priority and emphasis on teaching undergraduates.

The UI acknowledges the UI Center for Advancement as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa is a comprehensive college offering 73 majors in the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. More than 17,000 undergraduate and 1,900 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by professors at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all UI undergraduates through the General Education Program, and confers about 70 percent of the UI's bachelor's degrees each academic year.