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Published April 08, 2019
For more than a quarter century, political science Professor Jim King has taught University of Wyoming students about the functioning of their government.
He teaches “American and Wyoming Government,” “U.S. Presidency” and seminars on “American Political Institutions” -- courses that form the bedrock of UW’s Political Science Program. The polarizing nature of American politics, especially since 1994, makes these courses both more important as well as more difficult to teach, according to King’s colleagues.
That devotion to leadership attests to King’s talent and commitment to teaching these subjects, which have earned him the George Duke Humphrey Distinguished Faculty Award.
Named for UW’s 13th president, who served from 1945-1964, the George Duke Humphrey Distinguished Faculty Award recognizes teaching effectiveness, distinction in scholarly work and distinguished service to the university and state.
“As a challenging, yet caring instructor, he has influenced thousands of students for nearly 40 years. As a distinguished scholar, he has written some of the nation’s most important work on the executive branch of government, which continues to influence academics to this day,” says Professor Stephanie Anderson, the head of UW’s School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies.
King, who has been at UW since 1992, has literally written the book on Wyoming politics. His work with the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center informs political analysis of Wyoming voters in state and national elections, and makes him a sought-after commentator for state and national publications.
His national service is equally impressive, having been voted the president of the Southwestern Political Science Association. He has been recognized with numerous awards for teaching, scholarship and service. He has received the UW College of Arts and Sciences’ Exemplary Faculty Award as well as the college’s Extraordinary Merit Award for Research. At the university level, he has won the Promoting Intellectual Engagement (PIE) Award and the “Top Prof” Award from UW’s Mortar Board.
“Jim is a model teacher, scholar, colleague and mentor. I have watched him carefully for more than two decades and consider him to be one of the most professional, smart, energetic and giving professionals that I have ever known,” says UW Professor Robert Schuhmann. “I have learned tremendously from him during my career. No question is too big or too small. When there is a need for a person to make an important professional contribution, Jim King is the person to whom I turn.”
King’s student evaluations show that he is up to the challenge and consistently is able to deliver on UW’s promise that it will inform successive generations of students of their civic duties and show them how U.S. democracy works, according to a former colleague.
“Dr. King was an overall excellent professor. He was able to engage the students throughout the class and present it in an exciting manner so that it stuck with me as a student,” one student writes. “He presented the material effectively by providing examples to each so that there was a true understanding of the material.”
Another student adds: “Professor King has a very effective teaching style by remaining nonpartisan during class and simply presenting facts in a logical way.”
One student recommends that all students take King’s classes because he encourages involvement.
“Professor King is a very effective teacher and a strong advocate for student participation in local events,” the student writes. “He is an excellent speaker and makes the subject that he teaches very interesting to learn about.”
King earned a B.A. degree in social science teaching (1974) from Michigan State University, East Lansing; an M.A degree in political science (1977) from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo; and a Ph.D. in political science (1983) from the University of Missouri, Columbia.