This afternoon, Paul Djupe, Allison Calhoun-Brown, and I had the real honor of participating in a panel celebrating Ken Wald's career. To the disappointment of many, Ken will retire at the end of the spring 2016 semester, after 40 years in the business.
Ken is a giant in the field of Religion and Politics. He received his PhD from Washington University in St. Louis in 1976 and was researching religion and politics before it was widely done among political scientists. Religionists such as myself owe him a great deal. Not only did he help institutionalize the subfield within APSA in the late 1980s, but he also pushed the subfield to pursue greater theoretical rigor. Ken is an intellectual leader, and as David Leege observes, "His work in religion and politics was the first in the field to regularly break the barrier of acceptance in the leading general journals of the discipline."
His professional accomplishments are numerous. Here are a few highlights:
Many of Ken's former students sent in notes of thanks and tribute for the panel. The line that runs through them is gratitude for his continued mentoring, patience, and kindness. I'll close by sharing my note of thanks.
I knew that once you became a grandfather it would only a matter of time before you retired. I’d be disappointed, but I have a feeling that you’ll still be writing, editing, and at least occasionally conferencing. I am counting on see you at APSA every now and again! Thanks so much for everything you have done for me over the years. Your kindness, patience, and support contributed greatly to my professional development. When I was a graduate student, you had confidence in me before I had confidence in me. You helped me to find a literature that allowed me to productively combine my interests religion and political institutions, you helped network me in the wider scholarly community, you have been a generous co-author and sounding board, and you taught the hell out of the religion and politics grad seminar. That’s a seminar that has stayed with me. It shaped my scholarship and teaching in ways I did not fully appreciate at the time, and early in my career the more I reflected back on that seminar the more I learned. As a teacher, I often hear you speaking through me—I tell every class that research papers aren’t mystery novels, and that I don’t want to wait until the last page to know the central point. As a scholar, however, you taught me to find my own voice, and you were (patiently) impatient with anything less. I am grateful for that. Congratulations, Ken, on your tremendous career. I wish you all the best in your retirement.