This issue of the Exchange features Richard A. Glenn, department chair and professor of government and political affairs at Millersville.

Q: How long have you been working at Millersville University? How long have you been department chair?

A: I am starting my 16th year.  I have been chair for eight years.

Q: What are your favorite classes to teach?

A: Constitutional Law I: Federalism and Separation of Powers and Constitutional Law II: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

Q: Do you use a different curriculum or teach differently during election years?

A: No. I do set aside one class period in late October to discuss the election.

Q: Do you let your students have debates on candidates for elections, the 2008 election in particular?

A: No.  I do not like formal classroom debates.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: The serious students.

Q: Why did you choose to teach at Millersville?

A: I was just out of graduate school and looking for a place that would allow me to become a specialist as opposed to a generalist.  At many smaller schools, government departments have few faculty members, meaning each faculty member must teach a broad array of courses across the discipline. I preferred to teach within my subfield of courts and public law.

Q: I heard you use the “paper chase” theory of teaching. If this is true, can you describe what that is?

A: I do not think that it is often called the “paper chase” theory any more. It is the Socratic Method, however, I use it in my senior-level seminars. I want students to learn the development of legal principles. Rather than rote recitation, which is still important in many respects, there is a Socratic dialogue. For each class period, students are required to read and brief two to three Supreme Court decisions. In class, I ask students to “state the case,” which means to provide me with the facts, the route of litigation, the court’s ruling and its reasoning. Once that information is presented, I want to know whether they agree or disagree with the result, whether the reasoning was correct or flawed, whether the conclusion was consistent or contrary to other cases previously decided and so forth. Instead of reciting what has been written in a case, students must, through reasoning, figure out the rule of law upon which the case relied.

Q: Do you use your own political views to teach the students, or must you keep them out of the classroom?

A: I am a fairly apolitical person. I think both parties have something to offer the American electorate. Even so, I do not care much for electoral politics or partisanship and I am not at all comfortable talking about my limited political views in the classroom.

Q: You once wrote a review on To Kill a Mockingbird. How many book reviews have you written?

A: I am a regular reviewer for the Law and Politics Book Review, a publication of the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association (LPBR). I usually review one academic book for LPBR each calendar year.

Q: Do you have any favorite books or genres?

A: For nonfiction, I enjoy American history and baseball. For fiction, I enjoy espionage.

Q: You have many publications. Which one has been your favorite to write? Why?

A: I enjoyed most writing a book on constitutional privacy. It was my first major project and required that I use most of the research and writing skills I had learned in college and graduate school. I also enjoyed co-authoring a book on the Fourth Amendment with my major professor from graduate school.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?

A: I like to run, read, play and coach baseball, and spend time with my wife and sons.

Q: What college/university did you attend?

A: I received my bachelor’s degree from Carson-Newman College, a small, private, liberal-arts institution in Jefferson City, Tenn. I earned my graduate degrees from the University of Tennessee.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: The second baseman for the Chicago Cubs or Cincinnati Reds.

Q: Since you are a faculty athletic liaison, I assume you like sports. What is your favorite sport? Do you have a favorite professional sports team?

A: Baseball. The Chicago Cubs.

Q: What is your favorite job that you ever had?

A: The summer after my sophomore and junior years in high school, I mowed lawns.

Q: Have you ever been out of the country? If so, what country has been your favorite? If not, where would you like to travel the most?

A: My parents were foreign missionaries, so I was raised overseas. As a kid, I lived in West Germany, Liberia, Iran and Norway. I have also spent (as an adult) three summers in South America. For a variety of reasons, the two years I spent in Iran were the most memorable.

Q: If you were stranded on an island, what is the one thing you wish you had with you?

A: My family.

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This article has 5 comments

  1. Of all the professors under whom I ever had the opportunity to study, I would have to say that Dr. Glenn numbers in my top three. Not because he was easy – my Lord, he was rarely easy. Instead, he has the distinction of being one of only three profs who ever actually made me work – really challenged me to do more than show up for an A. I read more, thought more, discussed more, and worked more for him than I thought that I could. But I learned something, not only about the American Judiciary (the class I took) but about my own capabilities.

  2. Excellent and interesting article, but couldn’t you find a more recent picture of yourself?

  3. Dr. Glenn is a legend. I have heard about his rigor and expertise for over a decade as my brother had him as a professor as did many of my friends. ALL of them would say he was their favorite professor at Millersville. I was intrigued that we share overseas living experiences and that we both want our students to really think about life through our encounters with them in our classes.

    Kudos to Dr. Glenn!

  4. Great article. Never knew all this about you.

  5. Richard Glenn is one of the most respected men on our campus–a professor that truly cares about his students and his profession. Our university should be proud to have him on staff as an educator, colleague and mentor.

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