Thomas J. Volgy was born in Budapest, Hungary. His parents escaped during the Hungarian revolution and emigrated to the United States. He received his BA from Oakland University, and his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota in Political Science. He moved to Tucson to take a position at the University of Arizona, where he is a professor of political science, specializing in international politics, democratic processes, and domestic public policy. He is served for twenty years as the executive director of the International Studies Association, the largest association of its kind focusing on international politics, with a membership of over 7,000 scholars from 110 countries. He is also co-owner of a firm, called Magellan International, LLC., which does business both in the United States and overseas, involving business consultation, political consultation, and international trade. He served in public office from 1977 through 1991 as a member of the Tucson city council, and then as Mayor of Tucson.
He has published dozens of articles in professional journals, and is the author and/or co-author of several books, including Regions, Power and Conflict: Constrained Capabilities, Hierarchy, and Rivalry (2022), Turmoil and Order in Regional International Politics (2022, forthcoming), Major Powers and the Quest for Status in International Politics (2011), Mapping the New World Order (2009), International Politics and State Strength (2003), Politics in the Trenches: Experimenting with Democracy in America (2001), and The Forgotten Americans (1992).
He has also been honored by the University of Arizona with awards for teaching and distinguished public service.
Volgy ran successfully for local office, both on the Tucson City Council and as Mayor of Tucson, and served for fourteen years in elected office. During that time, he accepted as well a national leadership role with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities, and was invited on numerous occasions to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the National Governors Council on key urban public policy issues facing the nation. He has served as a delegate to two national Democratic conventions, including his role on the DNC’s rules committee. His accomplishments in local office include:
- The development of a model campaign finance reform program for Tucson that has been adopted by dozens of other cities throughout the nation;
- The consolidation and integration of economic development efforts in the community. In his last year in office, Tucson had attained the lowest level of unemployment and the highest job creation in its history until that time;
- An aggressive strategy of international trade for Tucson’s businesses that vaulted Tucson from 196th to 9th in the United States;
- A strong leadership role in neighborhood preservation and historical redevelopment, including the creation of Tucson’s Arts District;
- An upgrading of Tucson’s public transportation system that led to the designation of Tucson as the best mid-range public transit system in the nation;
- A major rehaul, consolidation, and reintegration of Tucson’s social service programs;
- A consistent effort to create metropolitan government.
- Environmental regulations to protect the city from water and air pollution and to preserve the desert environment.
After leaving public office, Volgy has been actively involved through the U.S. government with the training of government officials overseas in the areas of democratic political development and public policy. He has conducted such training in Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Hungary, Romania, and Guyana. In addition, he was part of the international team that monitored Hungary’s first democratic elections in the post-Cold War environment. He also served as a member of the U.S. State Department delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe conference in Prague, and has lectured on international politics and transatlantic relations for the State Department in Europe.
After leaving office, Volgy has been active as well in the private sector. He is co-owner of Magellan International, a firm providing consulting services and assistance domestically and internationally. Through his firm, his projects have included working with litigators to pick juries, conducting survey research for both political campaigns and private sector market surveys, consulting on telecommunications issues in the marketplace, consulting on Congressional and mayoral campaigns, and providing assistance with international trade in Europe and Asia.