Alumnus and Harvard University professor to address graduates
The State University of New York at New Paltz will welcome Harvard Political Science Professor Gary King (‘80), one of the College’s most distinguished graduates, back to campus as the featured speaker at the Undergraduate May Commencement Ceremony at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 23, on the Old Main Quadrangle.
At Harvard, King is the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor – one of 22 with the title of University Professor – Harvard's most distinguished faculty position. And on April 27, King was elected as a member of The National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.
During the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony, King will be awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters, the highest accolade given by the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York.
He is founder and director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS), which fosters interdisciplinary and highly collaborative projects to solve problems. King’s work on legislative redistricting has been used in most American states by legislators, judges, lawyers, political parties, minority groups, and private citizens, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court.
College President Steven Poskanzer said that King is an appropriate role model for all New Paltz graduates because he demonstrates what can be accomplished with a New Paltz degree. “Dr. King’s return to campus will serve as a great inspiration to our students and faculty, not only from the departments of Political Science and Sociology, but across all the disciplines,” said Poskanzer.
In 1980, King graduated from New Paltz summa cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science and went on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984. Since that time, King has become a leading social scientist whose research is widely read across scholarly fields and beyond academia. As director of the Institute, King develops and applies empirical methods in many areas of social science research, focusing on innovations that span the range from statistical theory to practical application all with the goal of improving the well-being of human populations.
King’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the National Institute of Aging, the Global Forum for Health Research, and centers, corporations and foundations. His recent appointment to The National Academy of Sciences, a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare, calls on King to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.
He has served on 24 editorial boards; on the governing councils of the American Political Science Association, Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, the Society for Political Methodology, and the Midwest Political Science Association; and on several National Research Council and National Science Foundation panels.
King’s 120 journal articles, 15 open source software packages and eight books span most aspects of political methodology, many fields of political science, and several other scholarly disciplines. His contribution to methods for achieving cross-cultural comparability in survey research has been used in surveys in more than 80 countries by researchers, governments and private concerns.
Gerald Benjamin, associate vice president for regional engagement and director of the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO) at New Paltz, and, who also previously served as chair of the department of Political Science and (for 12 years beginning in 1996) dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said King has returned to campus several times since graduation to speak with students.
"Gary has had and continues to have an extraordinary career as a political scientist, reaching the pinnacle of the profession," said Benjamin. "His research is of national and international importance for governance; he has prepared numerous teacher/scholars who themselves are providing intellectual leadership in political science departments in universities across the country. He is one of the finest students and finest people I've ever taught. Gary's great achievement is personal, but is also is an exemplar of what SUNY -- and especially SUNY New Paltz -- does at its very best to help create opportunity for New Yorkers."