The Society for Political Methodology has named Frederick Boehmke, University of Iowa professor of political science and director of the Iowa Social Science Research Center, as a 2020 recipient of its prestigious Excellence in Mentoring Award.
"In a relatively small department, where the average cohort includes six graduate students, Professor Boehmke has participated in 42 dissertation committees over a fifteen-year period," noted the award's Selection Committee in the organization's announcement of the award. "He plays a pivotal role in his department, especially in promoting interaction between students and faculty and thus furthering early professionalization of graduate students. The committee was also struck by Professor Boehmke’s evangelizing zeal, which is exemplified by his tireless promotion of methods conferences . . . among his students. This dedication means that Professor Boehmke’s mentoring extends all year round and around the clock."
“Working with students and seeing them succeed is one of the most enjoyable parts of this job, so it was a really good feeling to receive this award,” Boehmke said.
Boehmke said many of his former students contributed to his nomination for the award, which seeks to recognize mentors in political methodology, the area of political science that works with data and statistics.
“Receiving acknowledgement from the students I’ve spent years working with is especially meaningful, because it reflects their appreciation as well as their dedication to this part of our discipline," Boehmke said. "Political methodology is fairly technical, and many political science students don’t come to graduate school with the background or training to work with data. Compared to other areas of study within our discipline, it requires more mentoring to encourage students. The Society for Political Methodology values mentoring because of the important role it plays in recruiting or getting new people interested in this approach to political science."
Boehmke’s students praised him for his hands-on approach to mentoring in all aspects of professional life, and how he pushes them to overcome insecurities in the field. In the award announcement, the Selection Committee cited students' appreciation for his commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
"Professor Boehmke’s individualized mentorship approach has combined well with his dauntless advocacy for women and other underrepresented groups in political methodology," the committee members wrote. "His nomination letter singles out how conscientious he was as director of graduate studies to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in his department."
Boehmke, who teaches graduate statistics and data analysis courses, said many of his students go on to take more developed courses that combine with his work in American politics. He’s typically advising as many as three students at a time on their PhD topics. He’s published over a dozen articles with graduate students as co-authors, which provides them with an opportunity to learn how to write pieces of that nature, helps them in their career and with job placement.
Boehmke joined the Department of Political Science faculty in 2000, and became director of the Iowa Social Science Research Center in 2015. He chairs the steering committee for the undergraduate Certificate in Social Science Analytics. In 2006, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences named him a Dean's Scholar, in recognition of his outstanding scholarship and teaching.
—by Katie Ann McCarver