Penn State Renowned Academic Leader and Former Liberal Arts Dean, Susan Welch, Passes Away

Longtime academic and philanthropic leader Susan Welch passed away on Monday, March 28. Welch was born Oct. 3, 1943, in Galesburg, Illinois, to Delbert and Marie (nee Satterfield) Welch and grew up in nearby Bushnell. She enrolled at the University of Illinois in 1961 with the intent of majoring in mathematics.

She also enjoyed history, however, and continued to study it during her first three years at the University of Illinois. Her instructors at Illinois nurtured that interest in history to the point that she changed her major at the beginning of her senior year.

She later changed disciplines again, this time to political science, and eventually earned her doctorate in political science from the University of Illinois in 1970.

“Susan was a role model, pioneer, visionary and incredible leader who helped make Penn State into the world-class university it is today,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron

Welch became an assistant professor of political science at the University of Nebraska after graduation, embarking on a more than 50-year career where she established herself as one of the foremost political science scholars of her generation.

She wrote more than 170 peer-reviewed articles and authored or co-authored eight books — including her renowned, “Understanding American Government,” a three-time winner of the American Government Textbook Award from the Women’s Caucus for Political Science and currently in its 14th edition.

Her published works have been cited more than 11,000 times, and her article “The Impact of Gender on Activities and Priorities of State Legislators,” co-written with Sue Thomas for Western Political Quarterly in 1991, is the most cited work on women in politics and considered a breakthrough in the study of women’s potential political behaviors.

Read Penn State’s Tribute to Professor Welch or the find the obituary here.

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1 Comment

  1. Susan Welch made every person feel they were special to her. She was a role model for being a good human being. I mourn her passing but am sure she is preparing for a new adventure.

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