Cary Covington Retires

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Cary Covington portrait
Thursday, December 17, 2020


Cary Covington began his career at the University of Iowa in the fall of 1982. Since that time, he has taught thousands of students, advised and mentored undergraduate and graduate students, helped to build and maintain the research reputation of the department, and provided an expert voice on the U.S. presidency and elections. Cary’s signature class, The Presidency, has been a fixture in our annual course offerings and the most popular class over the last decade. Cary’s expert knowledge of the subject and his dedication to teaching have enriched the university experience for countless students.

As part of his efforts to provide unique and high-quality educational experiences, Cary led a class of students to the 2000 Republican National Convention and 2008 Democratic National Convention. This opportunity allowed students to see and experience a major political event with the guidance of Cary’s in-depth knowledge of the political process. Cary has also been a publicly engaged scholar. He has spoken to domestic and international audiences about a host of topics including the Iowa caucuses, U.S. elections, and the presidency. Finally, Cary is an incredible colleague. He has always been willing to help the department in any capacity. He has provided leadership and important insight into numerous decisions during his time at Iowa. We wish Cary all the best as he retires after the fall 2020 semester.

A look back to 1982. Faculty gathered in the previous Bose Library. Pictured standing in the back L-R: Russell Ross, Doug Madsen, Bob Boynton, John Nelson, Ben Most, Bill (William) Panning, Michael Lewis-Beck. Seated in middle row L-R: Hugh Kelso, Chong Lim Kim, Cary Covington, Joel Barkan, Pat Patterson, Dick Jankowski, Jim (James) Murray. In the front row L-R: Jerry (Gerhard) Loewenberg, Lane Davis, Peter Snow, Misty Gerner, Vernon VanDyke, Greg Caldeira.


Creating the Institute for Civic Engagement

In 2013, Cary worked with the provost’s office, College of Education, and the Hoover Presidential Foundation to set up the Institute for Civic Engagement. This program brought high school educators to the University of Iowa and Hoover Presidential Library and Museum to help generate ideas and plans for how to teach and promote civic engagement in their classrooms. Interest in the program grew each year and, in the seven years since its beginning, many Iowa educators have taken what they have learned back to their schools. Cary has been deeply committed to this endeavor and his passion for promoting civic engagement was clear to all the participants and is one of the primary reasons for its success. The Institute for Civic Engagement is one example of the many contributions that Cary has made to the university, our communities, and the state of Iowa.

As Outreach Archivist at the Hoover Library, it was my great pleasure to work with Cary Covington and the Hoover Summer Civic Institute for nearly a decade. Every year, Covington would bring a group of educators to the Hoover Library so that they could seize the opportunities to spark civic engagement in their students. Each year, Cary brought more teachers to the table. Clearly his message resonated. What was also clear was Covington's deep commitment to the enterprise. His visceral excitement was contagious, so it is not surprising that each year drew more participants.

I will be sorry not to see Covington in the coming years. His energy always led me to raise my level.

Matthew Schaefer, archivist
Herbert Hoover Presidential Library


Cary Covington Retires