U professor leaves for business institute

Megan Boldt

Political science professor Steve Smith announced Thursday he will leave the University to take over as director of Washington University’s Center for the Study of American Business in St. Louis.
Smith said his departure has been expected since April. Besides serving as the center’s director, he will hold an endowed chair position in the political science department.
Smith said he looks forward to the possibilities in economic and political science research at the center. He plans to focus more on the political process of public policy and develop an expanded association with faculty research. The center is well-known for its research in environmental policy and governmental regulation of businesses.
“This will be a unique opportunity,” Smith said. “This is a center with a large endowment that will allow me to do things I could not do here.”
The 13-year University veteran said he will miss the Twin Cities — he grew up in Minnesota. But he said no one tried to change his mind.
“The department made no effort to retain me. I have no idea why,” he said.
Political science department chairman John Freeman said he had no comment on Smith’s departure. Other faculty members did not return phone calls Monday.
Murray Weidenbaum, founder of the Washington University center, said it was time for a younger person with a different perspective to take over. Weidenbaum, the current director, is 73 years old.
Washington University chose Smith after a yearlong national search for a high-caliber scholar, he said.
“It was clear that he was the outstanding person to emerge from the search,” Weidenbaum said. “He will bring a high level of energy and some fresh ideas to the center.”
Smith taught at Northwestern University and George Washington University before coming to the University of Minnesota. Smith’s research interests include American, congressional and Russian politics; positive theories of politics and theories of institutional development.
Smith has also published several books, including a recent work about the formation of the Russian parliament. He is currently working on two books: one focusing on party leadership and political parties in the U.S. Senate and the other on Russian presidential and parliamentary relations.

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