Faculty Spotlight: Chad Westerland

1. At what institution did you do your undergrad and graduate work?
Undergraduate Work: B.A in English and Political Science
                      Gonzaga University
Graduate Work: M.A. in Political Science
                   PhD in Political Science
                 Stony Brook University
 
2. What was your favorite course in your undergraduate career?
“That is a hard question. Civil Liberties is the first one but I would like to throw in Politics and Literature.”
 
3. What is your field of research in?
“My field of research is American Politics, Judicial Politics, and Statistical Methodology.”
 
4. What initiated your interest in this field?
“American Politics and the courts, in particular, I wanted to understand what makes courts different and how the legal system works. As far as statistical methodology, I wanted to know, how do we know what we know.”
 
5. So, why not law school?
“I get that question a lot. I was an English major for the most part of my undergraduate but that was not what I wanted to go to graduate school for. I thought about law school during my first year of graduate school, but given what I wanted to research, law school would not have been the best decision for me. No regrets though.”
 
6. What inspired you to want to teach?
“The idea of teaching was always there. Being an academic always seemed like a lucky thing to do, if you can do it, because they pay you to think about stuff you care about.”
 
7. What do you think a professor’s role is in a student’s academic journey?
“To get you to trust yourself, to get you to know that you can ask the right questions, and you can try to figure it out. Another way to put that is self- reliance. To empower students to be self-reliant.”
 
8. What words of advice do you have for students who may be taking your course(s)?
“Be consistent. A little bit of work everyday is better than a lot of work the day before.”
 
9. What is your teaching philosophy?
“It is to challenge and empower, that is the best way to put it. None of us are certain we are doing that on any given day, but that is the goal, to figure out ways to challenge. And at the same time, it might be contradictory, but to also simplify where possible. To take complex things and figure out a way to understand them.”
 
10. What do you like to do in your free time?
“Music and way too much basketball! My favorite NBA team is the Lakers. And of course I have UA season tickets.”
 
11. Who is your greatest inspiration?
“Family, but particularly my mother.”