The State College contingent of the Penn State Dickinson School of Law, Class of 2009, showed up on campus in August of 2006- a new thing under the sun. We will be forever bound together, however tenuously as the years march on, by our membership in that class. For now, though, we are tightly bound together by the sad and unexpected news that our classmate and colleague, Eddie Richardson, has died. Two days shy of his twenty seventh birthday.
A light, as they say, has gone out in the world. Yet we may expect that the sky will be a little brighter from now on. Eddie, a luminescent figure in life, has ascended. Perhaps from his new and sky-bound home he will continue to do for us now what he did for us in life: shine his light upon us, and thereby, in the words of that Spanish poem, “…hacer mas claro y luminoso el dia.” But now, from up there, he will reach us all at once and always, rather than, as he did in life, shine upon us separately and episodically, through his personal interactions with us.
Many members of our class knew Eddie better than I did. They no doubt can offer meaningful testimony to his life, and they are certainly invited and encouraged to do so here. But I think it says something very positive about Eddie that someone like me, who knew him, but not especially well, remembers him so fondly. He looms large in my memories of law school, and principally for this reason: He was the first person I met at the first orientation event that was held for our class, back in August of 2006. As an older student, and having just left professional life behind, I was nervous walking into the room that day; nervous about fitting in, about being accepted by my new classmates. It was a sort of discomfort I had not felt in years, back to the day I walked, as a stranger in a strange land, into the cafeteria of my new high school. I was all grown-up in 2006 when I walked into the law school orientation event, but in my mind I was right back in my high school cafeteria, embarrassingly desperate for the consolation of a friendly face.
And then there was Eddie. He was sitting at the table I arrived to- maybe he was the reason I arrived at that particular table- already popular with the people there and smiling genuinely back at me. He put me at ease. My nervousness was gone, never to return. That is the sort of kindness a person doesn’t forget in life; I haven’t and won’t. Even if, in Eddie’s case, it wasn’t so much a kindness done to me as it was an expression of who he was; which was and remains a kindness done to everyone he knew.
I sat next to Eddie in our Administrative Law class during our last semester of law school. He regularly said the best things, most of which betrayed a rare wit and a high intelligence. One of those best things, which however did not tax either his wit or intelligence to conjure, was an occasional and appropriate, “This sucks.” And he pronounced the word “sucks” in such a way that anyone unfamiliar with the word or its connotations would nevertheless have known what he meant by it; had he been made to write out his pronuciation, between the ‘s’ and the ‘cks’ would have been about fourteen pregnant u’s.
But then he would smile and go on. Which- in law school and in life- is the thing to do. It’s the thing to do not because it’s a grand invention, but because it stands well among a limited troupe of truly unpalatable alternatives.
Farewell, gentle-souled Eddie. Shine on down.
I was attending a reception at San Franciso’s Legion of Honor last week and unexpectedly encountered department alumna Samantha Foster.Samantha is a commercial relationship manager with Bank of the West. She describes her career like this:
Over the past 18 years, I have helped companies grow their revenues and wealth by providing over $500MM in loans to them. Working with companies with revenues of $10MM to $50MM is my niche. My current position at Bank of the West allows me to lend to just about any industry, with a focus on the food and beverage, manufacturing and service industries as well as companies which are green, organic and sustainable.
It’s always a treat to see our alums and catch up with their exploits and achievements.
If you are a Pacific Political Science alum, shoot us a message and let us know what you are up to.
Senior political science major Emily Sheldon with Graham Howes will premier their documentary, Voiced: South Africa, tonight at 7 PM at the Pacific Theater.The movie documents the plight of those in South Africa living with HIV/AIDS.
More information about the movie and Emily can be found here.
It’s always interesting to see what our political science graduates are doing after graduation. We have lawyers aplenty and many people working in government and politics. But sometimes a road leads in another direction.
Check out what recent graduate Brandon Savage says about his path:
I was born in Fremont, California and grew up in Yuba City, California. I attended Yuba City High School and University of the Pacific, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with an emphasis in United States Government.
Computers had always held an interest for me, and I began working with the Office of Information Technology at the University of the Pacific. While operating a geopolitical rolepalying game, I became frustrated with doing math by hand, and decided to learn a programming language to do it for me. PHP was the language I selected, in the early days of PHP 4.
After moving to the Washington area in 2007, I accepted a job as a Systems Administrator with CACI, working on a contract at the United States Department of State. In early 2008 I moved to DC PHP, where I worked on projects for Freedom House, Greenpeace USA, Birthright Israel and others. As a self-taught programmer I have excelled at learning the core fundamentals of programming, including object-oriented design, library building, and project management.
In late 2008, I accepted a position with The Bivings Group, where I am currently employed as a Custom Application Developer.
Note how Brandon’s interest in politics both led him to develop greater programming expertise and prepared him to work on a number of government and politics related projects.
On October 22, 2008 current and former Pacific faculty members presented a session of predictions and analysis about the upcoming presidential elections.
Political Science Professor Jeff Becker introduced the panel, which was part of Pacific’s Social Science Research Colloquium.
Professor David Frederickson from Pacific’s Communications Department led off. Professor Frederickson is a veteran of many presidential campaigns stretching back to Gerald Ford’s 1976 campaign. Frederickson drew on his experience to argue that as campaigns draw to an end, the October Death March as he called it, three key elements strongly affect the outcome of an election: organization, money, and timing. All three elements seem to be lined up in Barack Obama’s direction. Not only did Professor Frederickson see the Obama campaign as using their money advantage very effectively, he also thought that Former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s endorsement of Senator Obama is “a likely game changer.”
Pacific Political Scientist Keith Smith followed by pointing to data that indicate that the outcome of the 2008 election should be closer to historical norms than the very close 2000 and 2004 races. Smith reviewed the most prominent political science models of the presidential election vote. Most models are based on the performance of the economy and the incumbent president’s job approval ratings. With an underperforming economy and a historically unpopular Republican president, “it’s a tough year to be a Republican.” Professor Smith predicted that based on a likely Obama popular vote victory in the predicted range, Senator Obama should win at least 286 and as many as 364 electoral votes.
Former Pacific Political Scientist Nate Monroe returned from Merced to report on predictions that he had made during a spring 2008 forum. Monroe gave himself mixed grades for his predictions. Professor Monroe argued that Senator McCain’s choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin was a “terrible strategic choice,” which has made it harder for the Arizona Senator to attract votes from the middle, but that Barack Obama’s selection of Joe Biden had been quite good at helping Senator Obama expand his electoral appeal.
Pacific Political Scientists continue to connect the classroom to the larger world of politics, government, and public policy. Professor Dari Sylvester is making her U.S. Government and Politics course a veritable laboratory for the 2008 campaign season.
Every Friday, Professor Sylvester’s class will see and hear candidates and campaigners involved in the 2008 election. Recently, Lee Neves (Pacific ’97), managing partner in Spinnovation Strategies, and Jack Mobley (R), a candidate for the California 17th district General Assembly seat, recently visited Professor Sylvester’s class to discuss their involvement in the current campaign.
Department alumna Karen Hanretty was recently featured in Glamour magazine on their list of “Political Powerhouses Under 40.”
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