By Taryn Gehman
Associate Professor Dr. Steve B. Lem, 34, was appointed the new political science chair as of fall 2014.
He succeeded Dr. Kristin Bremer.
“Our last chair, Dr. Bremer, was very outgoing and competent, so I am following her lead,” said Lem.
Bremer had served as chair for six years and had taken several steps to prepare Lem for the position. In a department of eight professors, he was the “natural choice” based on the expectations of the chair position.
Lem received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Binghamton University and became a faculty member of Kutztown University in 2008. Since his arrival, Lem has contributed to the Kutztown community on several fronts.
Dr. Lem engages with the KU community through his heavy involvement with student research endeavours. He has published numerous scholarly articles since coming to Kutztown. If a student is interested in a particular area of study, Lem is always more than happy to work alongside them.
Senior political science major Mario Schulz has worked closely with Lem on several scholarly articles and has worked as a research assistant in the political science department for two and a half years.
Schulz explains his perspective of Lem, and why he is suited for his new position as chair: “He is uniquely rational. He approaches everything as a policy problem, which gives him exceptional problem solving capacities. Working with Dr. Lem has been a very rewarding professional experience.”
Lem’s willingness to collaborate with students in their academic endeavors has made him more sensitive to the needs of his students. If students show a genuine interest in a particular subject, Lem ensures their enrollment and success in a particular class. For this reason, students from other majors are beginning to enroll in political science courses based on interest rather than criteria.
Justin Erb, a Senior English Major interested in revolutionary literature, sought out additional courses that would contribute to his studies and found a political science course that spoke to his interests.
“I hadn’t taken a political science class before this semester,” he said. “However, the Poli Sci Department allowed me to follow my interests. I was given permission to take the Social Movements and Revolutions class offered this semester, and it’s been a super helpful class.”
While drafting the fall schedule, Lem has taken the interests of both the students and professors into account.
According to Lem, a new political science course will be offered next fall called Politics of Development taught by Dr. John Riley.
Lem collaborates with fellow political science professors to bring about a better experience for both students and staff. Dr. Robert Portada, who was on the same tenure track as Lem, is currently working on a piece regarding gender rights in Latin America.
“Dr. Lem is so great to work with because he compliments my approach,” said Portada. “We have begun blending my knowledge of theory and narrative with his quantitative techniques.”
Lem also has the opportunity to represent the political science department through his relations with the dean and other chairs.
“Working as chair expands my job in a good way. I get to work with faculty in other departments I wouldn’t know otherwise,” said Lem.
Lem comments on the most enjoyable aspect of working as chair: “I have the opportunity to collaborate with really interesting people from various academic backgrounds.”
Through Lem’s commitment and close relations with the community, he plans on continuing his research with both students and faculty.