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Janna Deitz, WIU Associate Professor of Political Science (WIU/VPC photo)
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Political Science Professor Awarded Congressional Fellowship

May 4, 2011

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MACOMB, IL – Janna Deitz, an associate professor of political science at Western Illinois University, is among a highly select group of some 30 professionals nationwide – including just five in the field of political science – accepted into the 2011-2012 American Political Science Association (APSA) Congressional Fellowship in Washington, D.C. Other fellowship participants are journalists, doctors, federal executives and international scholars.

The APSA fellowship, founded in 1953, is the oldest and most prestigious congressional fellowship. Its purpose is to give early- to mid-career political scientists an opportunity to learn more about Congress and the legislative process through direct participation, according to the APSA Congressional Fellowship website ( And that's a big portion of Deitz's political interest.

"I am very honored to be selected as an APSA Congressional Fellow," Deitz said. "To witness firsthand the processes of representation and policymaking will be invaluable to my teaching and research."

Deitz, who is in her eighth year at Western Illinois, hopes to bring an expanded expertise in legislative politics back to the American politics courses she teaches.

"I look forward to the chance to be actively involved in congressional work and to share what I learn with students. WIU has given me the opportunity to mentor many talented students. Serving as a Congressional Fellow will help me be a better mentor for students desiring careers in government, politics and public service," added Deitz, who is the first political scientist at Western to be awarded this fellowship.

"It is gratifying to see Janna fulfill the high expectations that we had for her when we recruited her to Western," said department colleague Phyllis Farley Rippey, who was the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences who hired Deitz. "She has been an enthusiastic and deeply engaged scholar of the U.S. Congress, and I expect her to make significant contributions to that body in her participation in this very prestigious position of Congressional Fellow."

Her nine-month Congressional Fellowship begins in November with an intensive month-long orientation, during which time Fellows read up on senators and representatives who offer Fellows placements.

"It is up to each Fellow to secure his or her own staff assignment," Deitz said.

The full-time assignments as legislative aides in the House of Representatives and/or Senate may include tasks such as researching issues, writing speeches and news releases, attending committee hearings and drafting amendments, according to Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.

"Staff assignments begin in January (2012), which provides the additional benefit of working in a congressional office during an election year," said Deitz.

"The heart of all this is to find an assignment that enhances their (Fellows') long-term career goals and meets the needs of the individual office," said Jeff Briggs, director of the Congressional Fellowship.

The fellowship program also offers additional enrichment opportunities through the bimonthly Woodrow Wilson Seminar Series, in collaboration with the Library of Congress' Office of Scholarly Programs, which brings in guest lecturers from the Congressional Budget Office to the nation's top NGOs (Non-Government Organizations). There also is a possibility for a one-week U.S.–Canada Parliamentary Exchange to Ottawa, which provides an intensive comparative study of Westminster versus U.S.-model parliamentary systems.

Keith Boeckelman, professor and interim chair of the Department of Political Science, said: "Receiving this fellowship is a testament to Dr. Deitz's outstanding level of achievement as a political scientist. It will benefit Western students and our faculty alike."

Deitz teaches various courses in American politics, including "The Congress," "Campaigns and Elections," "Women and Politics," "The Presidency," "Voting Behavior and Public Opinion" and "Politics and Film."

Her primary areas of research in American politics include legislative politics, congressional elections, women and politics, and campaign finance. Her published work appears in academic journals, most recently on the gender gap in campaign finance, and in edited volumes on congressional elections. Deitz presents papers at national and regional conferences, and is a frequent panelist for politically-themed University and community events. She also provides election analysis for media.

She is an active member of the University community, having served as vice chair of the Faculty Senate, secretary of WIU's chapter of University Professionals of Illinois, and co-president of Western Organization for Women. Deitz was the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Service Award recipient in 2010.

Deitz earned her Bachelor of Arts degree (1994) in political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her Master of Public Affairs degree (1997) at Western Carolina University (Cullowhee, NC) and her Ph.D. (2004) in political science from the University of Georgia.

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