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Jerry Wright received the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award

Jerry WrightAt this year’s annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, IUB’s Jerry Wright received the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from the State Politics and Policy section of the largest organization of political scientists in the world. In making the award, Chris Mooney, who chaired the selection committee, cited Jerry’s enduring contribution to the study of state politics and policy in three areas:

- Wright’s scholarly contribution has been second to none in the field of state politics for the past 35 years. He has spent his career exploring how and how well legislatures represent the policy preferences of their constituents. Alone, with senior colleagues, and with his graduate students, he has amassed a body of work that has shed considerable light on this question at the core of democratic theory. Two long-term projects stand out in his illustrious career. First, Wright’s extended work with Robert Erikson and John McIver that culminated in the 1993 landmark book, Statehouse Democracy, was arguably the catalyst for the modern renaissance in the study of state politics. Its influence has been profound, both in terms of methodology and substance. The book alone has garnered over 1000 citations in Google Scholar. Second, Wright’s more recent work gathering and using roll-call voting data from state legislatures has proved a goldmine of both data and theoretical contribution, of which dozens of scholars have taken advantage. This project continues to provide fresh insights into the nature of behavior and representation in American-style legislatures.

- In addition to his leadership as a scholar of the field, Wright has also been a leader of the professional association of state politics scholars for decades. As a charter member of the State Politics and Policy organized section, as one of the first presidents of the section, as a member of the organizing committee and charter member of the editorial board of State Politics and Policy Quarterly, and as a long-time informal advisor and mentor to all of us working in the section, journal, and State Politics and Policy Conferences, Wright has been there “at the creation.” Indeed, it is not a stretch to say that without his leadership and hard work, the current professional renaissance in the field would not likely have taken place.

- Equally important as Wright’s direct contributions to scholarship and professional service has been his mentoring of an entire generation of top-notch state politics scholars who worked with him at Indiana. These scholars include the current editor of State Politics and Political Quarterly, Tom Carsey (University of North Carolina); Michael Berkman (Penn State); Tracy Osborn (University of Iowa); Jonathan Winburn (University of Mississippi); Brian Schaffner (University of Massachusetts); Jennifer Clark (Houston); Geoff Layman (Notre Dame); Robert Jackson (Florida State); and Bob Brown (University of Mississippi); among others. As with his scholarship and service, it is impossible to imagine the field of state politics scholarship (among fields) today without this cadre of important scholars, all well-trained by and devoted to Wright.

Said Mooney, “Gerald Wright is a giant in the study of state politics and policy, as well as having made great contributions to the study of American politics, in general. The committee and the section were enthusiastic about honoring Wright, and the reception in Seattle was a warm and festive event.”