Boehmke named 2020 co-recipient of Excellence in Mentoring Award

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Boehmke portrait
Tuesday, July 7, 2020


Congratulations to Fred Boehmke on being named 2020 co-recipient of the prestigious Excellence in Mentoring Award by the Society of Political Methodology.

Official statement provided by the award committee:

Over the past two decades, Professor Boehmke has built a distinguished career at the University of Iowa, where he currently serves as Director of the Iowa Social Science Research Center. He has published extensively on matters of representation and influence in state politics in the United States, and has also advanced knowledge in political methodology through dozens of publications in venues like Political Analysis, the Journal of Politics, and the American Political Science Review. Professor Boehmke’s work has been recognized a number of times with honorable mentions and prizes that include the 2006 Warren Miller Prize for the best paper published in Political Analysis.

In selecting Professor Boehmke as this year’s co-recipient of the Excellence in Mentoring Award, the committee was struck by the depth of his commitment to students, both graduate and undergraduate. He coordinates and teaches a large number of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels; at the graduate level, he has designed eight courses dealing with various topics in political methodology. 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. 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—PolMeth, SLAMM, EITM, ICPSR, Essex—among his students. This dedication means that Professor Boehmke’s mentoring extends all year round and around the clock.

Professor Boehmke’s students praise him for a hands-on approach to mentoring that covers all aspects of professional life, from fulfilling course requirements through defending their dissertations all the way to publishing, hitting the job market, and beyond, making sure to introduce his mentees to established colleagues in the field of methods. He pushes his students to overcome insecurities and math anxiety and to imagine themselves as valuable contributors to political methodology. We want to emphasize that Professor Boehmke’s approach to mentoring is far from being “one size fits all,” but instead closer what one of his students dubs “proactive personality management.” Another of his letter writers notes that “He does not expect any of us to fit a particular mold or follow the same path but approaches each of us as individuals and ensures that he is assisting all of his students in the best ways for them.”

Professor Boehmke’s individualized mentorship approach has combined well with his dauntless advocacy for women and other underrepresented groups in political methodology. His nomination letter singles out how conscientious he was as Director of Graduate Students to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in his Department. Several of his female students emphasize that Professor Boehmke was instrumental in their decision to enter the field of political methodology. One of his nomination letters reads: “As a woman and first-generation graduate student, I have repeatedly felt like I do not belong in the world of political methodology. Fred, however, has made me feel like I belong in the methods field and like my ideas are worthwhile from the first time I talked to him while applying to Iowa’s program.” Another of his female students writes: “[without] his subtle insistence that I actually could figure things out, that I actually was on the right track, I would likely have stuck to my stubborn belief that I wasn't any good at this subject [methodology] at all.”