Jan Leighley — 2019 Frank J. Goodnow Award Recipient

The American Political Science Association (APSA) will present the Frank Johnson Goodnow Award to Dr. Jan Leighley at the 2019 APSA Annual Meeting & Exhibition, the world’s largest gathering of political scientists and source for emerging scholarship in the discipline.  The award recognizes outstanding service to the political science community and to the Association.  Frank Johnson Goodnow, for whom the award is named, served as APSA’s President from 1903 to 1905.

Jan E. Leighley is Professor of Government at American University.  With research interests in political representation and inequality, she has published papers on voter turnout, political participation and the political behavior of African-Americans and Latinos in the U.S. in a variety of journals, including the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, and the Journal of Politics.  Her most recent book, Who Votes Now?  Demographics, Issues, Inequality, and Turnout in the United States (with Jonathan Nagler), examines voter turnout in presidential elections from 1972 to 2008, highlighting the continuing class bias of the voting population relative to the citizen population; the importance of election laws to voter turnout; and the consistent bias of voters having more conservative policy preferences than non-voters.  She previously served as editor of American Journal of Political Science  (with Kim Quaile Hill, 2001-2004); and 2018-2019), and the Journal of Politics  (with Bill Mishler, 2009-2014) and also served as Senior Associate Dean in the School of Public Affairs at American University.

Here is what the Award Committee had to say about their decision:

Jan Leighley has compiled a remarkable record of public service to our profession.  For half of the last twenty years, she edited two of our most prestigious journals.  She served as editor of the American Journal of Political Science from 2002 to 2005, editor of the Journal of Politics from 2009-2014 and as interim lead editor from 2018-2019.  These positions involve enormous time commitments and impose substantial personal burdens.  Being chosen as such an editor more than once is also recognition of a job done exceptionally well.  Her recent service to the AJPS is particularly notable, as during a serious crisis for the journal and the discipline, she and her team worked quickly to get operations back up and running in just one month’s time.

Leighley also has served in many capacities in regional and national professional associations.  She has been president of two professional associations (the Southwestern Political Science Association and the Midwest Political Science Association) and also served as program chair for the annual meetings of both of those associations.  Furthermore, she has been the division organizer for two different sections of the American Political Science Association (Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior; State Politics and Policy), and has served on the councils for both of those sections, as well as innumerable section committees.

Leighley’s lengthy and varied list of professional service extends over twenty-five years.  Besides her remarkable service as journal editor and leading presence in two important disciplinary sections, many scholars have attested to her strong teaching and inspirational mentorship of young scholars.  For example, Leighley has given at least a dozen conference panel presentations aimed at helping younger scholars learn such things as how to submit a journal article, get tenure, publish a book, and network professionally.

Leighley’s devotion to service might have affected her scholarship; however, like many effective academic leaders she also has been an intellectual leader in political science, writing several influential books published by top university presses and over two dozen peer-reviewed articles placed in top-tier journals.  Her research focuses on the relationship between class, ethnicity, and income inequality on turnout.  Leighley’s most recent book, Who Votes Now? (Princeton University Press, 2014), was an important in-depth examination of how resource biases influence turnout and its implications for American politics and society.

In sum, Jan Leighley exemplifies the qualities of intellectual leadership, generous public service and inspiring mentoring that the Goodnow Award honors.

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