Sept. 8, 2011

Peterson named interim director of Harkin Institute

by John McCarroll

David Peterson, associate professor of political science, will serve as interim director of the Harkin Institute of Public Policy at Iowa State, effective immediately.

In announcing the appointment, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences interim dean David Oliver said Peterson will focus on developing the structure, direction and activities of the institute.

"As with any new unit, there are many organizational details to be decided. We're very pleased that David Peterson will direct these important first steps for the institute while continuing his political research and teaching," Oliver said.

Peterson, who studies voter behavior, has co-authored two books: Mandate Politics and Religious Institutions and Minor Parties in the United States. He's at work on a book about how the images of presidential candidates are formed, and how they change over the course of the campaign. The new book likely will include a chapter on the Iowa caucuses and the presidential campaign process within the state. Peterson earned his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Iowa State and for me," Peterson said. "I look forward to continuing my work on the Iowa caucuses and using the institute to advance our understanding of some of the most vital policy areas we face."

The institute is named for U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, an ISU alumnus, who has served more than 35 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. The institute will house Harkin's papers, and serve as the catalyst for interdisciplinary research, teaching and outreach on public policy issues.

The Iowa Board of Regents approved establishment of the institute on April 28. The institute will report to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. An advisory board, which will be appointed by president Gregory Geoffroy, will provide oversight.

Eventually, a national search will be conducted to identify a permanent institute director. Fund raising is under way to provide necessary financial support for the institute.