Professor Receives Award For Long and Distinguished Service

Professor of Government Donald C. Baumer received the Honored Professor Award “in recognition of long and distinguished faculty service to the college” from President Kathleen McCartney at Smith’s 136th Commencement on Sunday.

In her remarks, McCartney cited “a tireless colleague” who “has touched nearly every aspect of the college.”

A political scientist, policy expert and former Congressional Fellow with the American Political Science Association, Baumer has studied unemployment and the polarization of the democratic process and has been sought after for counsel by the Department of Labor, the Eagleton Institute of Politics, and others, McCartney said.

Baumer arrived at Smith as an assistant professor of government in 1977 and has served as the dean for academic development, the chair of the Government Department, the director of the Jean Picker Semester-in-Washington Program, and director of the Public Policy Program.

“It was very gratifying to receive this award,” Baumer said. “What I have enjoyed most at Smith over the past 37 years is collegiality. First, in my department with senior colleagues such as Leo Weinstein, Stanley Rothman, Phil Green, Carlo Robertson and Peter Rowe. More recently with colleagues across the college with whom I have worked in various capacities, including Michael Thurston, Alex Keller, Roisin O’Sullivan, David Smith and Bob Newton. The stimulation that comes from working with talented people is what keeps me going.”

Baumer helped to establish the Environmental Science and Policy Program at Smith and provided strategic guidance for the renovations of the Science Center and the construction of the Campus Center. In her remarks, McCartney also noted that he was a member of the search committee that brought Ruth Simmons, the pioneering former president of both Smith College and Brown University—who received an honorary degree Sunday and delivered the keynote speech—to the presidency of Smith.

Baumer’s research, writing and teaching has focused on American public policy. His publications include The Politics of Unemployment (co-authored with Carl E. Van Horn) and Politics and Public Policy (also co-authored with Carl E. Van Horn and William T. Gormley, Jr), the fourth edition of which was published in 2013. Other research and publication projects have covered Senate leadership and public images of the political parties. Baumer’s 2010 book Parties, Polarization and Democracy in the United States, co-authored with Howard J. Gold, is now available in paperback.