Dick Simpson Receives the 2022 APSA Distinguished Teaching Award

The APSA Distinguished Teaching Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor outstanding contributions to the undergraduate and graduate teaching of political science at two- and four-year institutions.   

Dick Simpson has uniquely combined a distinguished academic career with public service in government. He has published widely, been an outstanding teacher, and affected public policy.  He began his academic career at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1967 where he has taught for 55 years.  At UIC he received the highest awards given for teaching including the UIC Silver Circle Award (twice), CETL Teaching Recognition Award, the UIC award for Excellence in Teaching, and the American Political Science Association (APSA) and Pi Sigma Alpha National Award for Outstanding Teaching in Political Science.  He is a former Department Head from 2006-2012, a previous Director of the department’s Preparing Future Faculty program and currently Professor of the Political Science at UIC.  He has served on the Teaching and Learning Committee of APSA and as co-chair of the Founders of the Distinguished Teaching Award for the APSA.  He retired from UIC in May 2022.

He has been the principal researcher on important studies which have led to reforms in many units of government in Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois.  His former students have served in public office from local school board to U.S. Senator.  His students have also served as interns in many branches of government, law firms, public interest groups, international and community organizations.

Dick Simpson has published numerous studies of elections, urban politics, voting patterns of elected officials, local government, public policy, elections and government budgeting read by scholars, students, journalists, and public officials.

Citation from the Award Committee:  

Dr. Dick Simpson has had an outstanding career teaching civic engagement for more than 50 years.  Merging knowledge and practice of civic engagement throughout his career, he has been on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Chicago since 1967, where he has published over 20 books on political actions and ethics, produced seven films and documentaries on politics (including an Emmy nomination), and written more than 100 journal articles, magazine articles, book chapters, and book reviews on politics and civic engagement.  Dr. Simpson has won numerous awards including the Lifetime Service Award from the APSA Political Science Education Section and every major teaching award at his own university.  His efforts to advance quality political science pedagogy include co-editing two important APSA books, Teaching Civic Engagement (2013) and Teaching Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines (2017) and assisting with Teaching Civic Engagement Globally (2021), all of which provide guidelines for improving civic engagement pedagogy inside and outside the classroom at all types of higher education institutions in every discipline across the country and around the world.  This work includes promoting civic engagement research work about and with K-12 educators.  For many years, he has led the National Student Issues Convention, a multi-institution collaboration which brings students across the country together in an inclusive format to debate and discuss urgent topics with each other and with their legislators and has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Political Science Education.

Within APSA, Dr. Simpson has led the call to elevate the role of teaching in the discipline, especially civic education.  As noted by his nominators, one of his important roles in the future of civic engagement education has been in mentoring his co-editors through the editing and writing process on all three civic engagement books.  In a discipline dominated by men, Dr. Simpson reached out to young female and minority scholars seeking to gain access to the field of civic engagement scholarship and helped them to find a platform for their innovative ideas.  Further, as a regular, vocal discussant at the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference for over fifteen years, he has been a leader in developing the next generation of civic engagement teacher-scholars in political science.  In a field of worthy nominations, the committee selected Dr. Simpson because of his long-standing, comprehensive record of teaching beginning in his own classroom and extending throughout the discipline, throughout higher education, and into K-12 education.  Professor Dick Simpson has transformed democratic education and is an exemplar of the political science teacher.

APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Dr. Alison Rios Millett McCartney (chair), of Towson University, Dr. Charity Butcher of Kennesaw State University, and Dr. Armando Razo of Indiana University.

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