Governor Tom Wolf Receives the 2020 Hubert H. Humphrey Award

The Hubert H. Humphrey Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor notable public service by a political scientist.

Citation from the Award Committee:

Tom Wolf is the 47th Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a position he has held since 2015.  Wolf is an extraordinary example of a successful private sector executive who was able to make the difficult leap to high public office.  His excellence in public service underscores the importance of bringing experienced business leaders into government, since they are often highly effective in boosting economic growth for citizens of their states.

Dr. Wolf has a wonderfully diverse background.  After growing up in York County, he attended college at Dartmouth but took a break to join the Peace Corps, serving as an agricultural worker in India.  After his work in the Corps he returned to Dartmouth, finished his studies, and went on to earn a Master’s degree at the University of London.  He then enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a doctorate in the Department of Political Science.  His award-winning dissertation is entitled “Congressional Sea Change:  Conflict and Organizational Accommodation in the House of Representatives, 1878-1921.”

Instead of pursuing an academic position, Dr. Wolf decided instead to return to his small hometown and join the family lumber distribution business.  There, he had to start low in the organization and work his way to higher positions.  He once quipped, “I was the only Ph.D. forklift operator in York County at the time, I’m pretty sure.”

Over the years, he rose in the company and eventually bought the business in 1985.  He sold the business to serve as Secretary of Revenue under Governor Rendell in 2005.  After three years, he again bought the Wolf Organization and led it back to success from difficult times, diversifying production and improving conditions for the large workforce.

Dr. Wolf has been a successful governor, restoring funds to education, supporting small businesses, and expanding Medicaid to cover hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who were without health insurance.  He has made the fight against opioid addition a high priority, working with the medical community on imaginative ways to reduce dependence and save lives.

Like all governors in the United States today, Dr. Wolf has been faced with the most extraordinary health and financial challenges since the Great Depression.  Pennsylvania has been a steady, rational leader in managing the epidemic.  As of this writing in May of 2020, over 45,000 people in Pennsylvania have contracted Covid-19, and the Governor has responded with powerful, clear, science-based guidance for the citizens of his state.

We feel as though Dr. Wolf brings together a strong strategic sensibility, tremendous empathy, and thoughtfulness in his leadership.  He is a stellar Humphrey awardee for our times, exemplifying how well a doctorate in Political Science can lead to a proud life in public service.

Read Governor Wolf’s Bio here.

APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Dr. Susan Herbst (chair), University of Connecticut; Dr. Bruce W. Jentleson, Duke University; and Professor Philippe Lagasse, University of Ottawa.

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