Dr. Matthew Holden, Jr., has been designated as the first Wepner Distinguished Professor in Political Science at the University of Illinois at Springfield. He is the Henry L. and Grace M. Doherty Professor Emeritus of Politics at the University of Virginia. He retired from that university in 2002 after a distinguished career spanning more than 40 years.
Holden will be the designee of the Wepner Distinguished Professorship pending U of I Board of Trustees approval of his selection at the board’s meeting in May. He is expected to formally join the UIS Department of Political Science in the College of Public Affairs and Administration this fall.
Holden has agreed to be the speaker at UIS’ 38th commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16, at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in downtown Springfield.
His wide-ranging scholarly interests, many of which are directly related to the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, include public administration and policy, public law, urban politics, and race and politics. His 1974 book, The White Man’s Burden, was a classic in the early political scholarship on race and politics. His latest book, yet to be published, is titled The World and the Mind of Isaiah T. Montgomery: The Greatness of a Compromised Man, which examines the lone African American delegate in the Mississippi Constitutional Convention of 1890.
“I, along with the entire Political Science Department, are truly thrilled to be welcoming Matthew Holden as a colleague,” said Dr. Christopher Mooney, professor of Political Science and chair of the selection committee for the Wepner professorship. “Holden embodies many of the most important values of UIS as a public service-oriented university. He is an eminent scholar of race and politics, of the public bureaucracy, of regulatory policy, and of urban politics.” Mooney called Holden a magnanimous and engaging individual with wide-ranging interests who will be a wonderful addition to the department, the university, and the Springfield community.
Holden has also taught at Wayne State University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author of numerous articles, book chapters, and books, and served as president of the American Political Science Association in 1998-99. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Senior Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. His current research is in the area of public administration, political theory, and political power.
His public service work includes service on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Northwestern University.
The Wepner Distinguished Professorship was established at UIS as the result of a $1.2 million unrestricted estate gift from a Springfield couple, Wilbur and Margaret Wepner, longtime supporters of UIS. The funds are being used for scholarships and the Wepner position. As a member of the Committee for Higher Education in Central Illinois, Wilbur Wepner helped found this university (then called Sangamon State University) in 1969.