Klesner to Helm CSAD

Professor of Political Science Joseph Klesner will direct Kenyon’s Center for the Study of American Democracy as current director David Rowe embarks on a Fulbright fellowship.

By David Hoyt ’14

Professor of Political Science Joseph Klesner, who has served as Kenyon’s provost and more recently as a senior advisor for strategic planning to President Sean Decatur, will assume the directorship of Kenyon’s Center for the Study of American Democracy (CSAD) on July 1, 2022. 

“I am delighted that Joe is willing to take on the role of CSAD’s director,” said Provost Jeffrey Bowman, whose office oversees CSAD. “Joe’s expertise in comparative politics, his wide-ranging vision for the possibilities of CSAD programming and his administrative acumen will be great assets to CSAD moving forward. These qualities are richly complemented by his longstanding commitment as a teacher to prompt Kenyon students to become fully engaged in the communities where they live.”

Professor of Political Science David Rowe, who has served as CSAD’s director since 2018, will pursue a Fulbright NATO Security Studies fellowship in Brussels during an upcoming sabbatical and will return to Kenyon to teach in the fall of 2023. Under his leadership, CSAD created a rich variety of innovative programming during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the virtual “Hill to Hill” panel series connecting Gambier to Washington D.C. 

“It has been an honor to serve as the Center’s director over the past four years, a time of enormous and unprecedented challenges to American democracy,” Rowe said. “I look forward to the next chapter of my work in addressing serious challenges to liberal democracy by  working on the future of the NATO alliance and its vital importance to the Atlantic community. While any Fulbright award represents an unparalleled professional opportunity, this particular Fulbright allows me to contribute to efforts to preserve the promise of a free, open and secure liberal democratic world during one of its most dangerous and darkest hours.”

“As director, Dave has done excellent work on the Leopoldo López Freedom and Democracy Award and was instrumental in the creation of the Thomas W. Smith post-doctoral fellow program at CSAD,” Bowman said. “I am grateful for his steady and imaginative leadership in a tumultuous time.”

Klesner, a member of Kenyon’s faculty since 1985, holds a master’s degree and a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. An expert in comparative politics, he was active in faculty governance before joining and eventually leading the Office of the Provost, serving as chair of the faculty and of the Faculty Lectureships and Curricular Policy committees, and coordinating the College’s two most recent presidential searches.

“I am excited for the opportunity to build on the innovative programming that Dave initiated during his years as CSAD director and to organize the next CSAD biennial conference,” Klesner said. “CSAD is blessed with an excellent team — Associate Director Nancy Powers, Administrative Assistant Andrea Lechleitner Ortiz, and many talented student associates — with whom I look forward to collaborating.”