Political science chair embraces new position

Jesse Wilson-Brown, Staff Reporter

Eastern’s Political Science department saw a change in administration as of July 1, 2018, as Melinda Mueller assumed the position of department chair.

Mueller has been with the university since 1995 and is celebrating her 24th year with a change to a more administrative position.

That’s not to say she is new to this kind of work, as she has acted as the graduate coordinator for the last 3 years.

Aside from only teaching two classes this semester, Mueller said there are new responsibilities she needs to get acclimated to this semester.

“It’s as if, like, I’m the manager for the department in some ways. But I view myself maybe as an advocate for faculty and an advocate for students,” Mueller said.

Financial decisions fall to Mueller as chair, mostly dealing with where she would like to allocate funds throughout the department.

The department is very student-oriented, according to Mueller, and she looks for ways to enhance their educational experience.

“We like to be able to send students to conferences and to get them involved in research, or to go over and be involved in government simulations and moot court over in Springfield,” she said. “And I help make those decisions.”

Mueller also deals with the scheduling of those in her department. She is in charge of deciding what classes faculty teach, as well as when they teach it. Mueller said that with the scheduling, meetings and paperwork have become more frequent.

“I have a lot of forms to fill out,” she said. “And a lot more meetings to attend, meetings with our dean’s office and then meetings with other chairs.”

Mueller says there’s a lot of planning going on concerning the future of the Political Science department. She said there are decisions to be made concerning curriculum and how faculty expansion can be easily facilitated.

Mueller has also stated that she is involved in a lot of recruitment for the department and even goes so far as to have face time at open house events around the university.

Some of the more immediate changes include an online option for the graduate program and a change in the undergrad program to make it easier for students to double major.

Mueller said because of the online graduate program, they have “many, many more graduate students” than they used to have. After reducing the hours needed for a political science degree, they have also seen a lot more students come into the department seeking a double major. Mueller hopes to do the same for their international studies option.

Tackling student engagement has been something that Mueller has been putting her mind to.

Students in political science classes this semester will have noticed that they received a blue card that can be signed and brought to the department picnic for a reward.

“We’ve been trying to do things along those lines to encourage more engagement with the students, because it’s not just enrolling students. We want them to stay here and thrive,” she said. “Really the point of it is to get them (students) to come to our picnic out at Lake Charleston, which is awesome. We’re looking forward to seeing the students and hanging out with them.”

The Department Picnic will take place Sept. 7 at the Lake Charleston Pavilion.

Jesse Wilson-Brown can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].