Political Analyst Returns to UMW to Open Leadership, Media Studies Center

Author, political analyst and professor Stephen Farnsworth will rejoin the faculty of University of Mary Washington in January to open the Center for Leadership and Media Studies on the Fredericksburg campus. He also will teach in the Department of Political Science and International Affairs.

The center will engage students in conducting research and political opinion surveys that study the role media plays in state and national politics, including the presidential election.

“So much of how we follow our government depends on what the media chooses to write or broadcast or post online,” according to Farnsworth, who currently is associate professor of communications at George Mason University. “We will examine news content, conduct opinion surveys of citizens and evaluate how they view government officials, government policies and media sources.”

Farnsworth, who taught at UMW for 13 years until 2008, expects the center to become operational soon after he arrives in January.

“We’ll hit the ground running to look at the upcoming presidential campaign,” Farnsworth said. “We plan to be in the thick of the campaign right away.”

A major initiative of the center will be connecting current undergraduates with alumni who are in government or political science careers to boost student and alumni experiences.

“We want to maximize alumni involvement so they can share insights about their careers with the next generation of students,” Farnsworth said.

An expert on media and politics, Farnsworth has conducted research on elections, the mass media, the presidency and public opinion in the United States. In addition to having his research appear in numerous scholarly journals, he is regularly quoted about political and communication issues in major media outlets.

He is the author of “Spinner in Chief: How Presidents Sell Their Policies and Themselves” and “Political Support in a Frustrated America.” He also co-authored “The Nightly News Nightmare: Television’s Coverage of U.S. Presidential Elections, 1988-2004” and “The Mediated Presidency: Television News and Presidential Governance.”

Farnsworth, who worked for 10 years as a newspaper journalist before becoming a professor, has lectured on the news media and elections, and he has led reporter-training seminars in India, the Philippines, Ukraine, Georgia, and Armenia through programs funded by the U.S. government. He also has assessed electoral conditions in Cambodia for the National Democratic Institute.

Farnsworth won three campus-wide teaching awards at UMW, including the Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award, the Mary W. Pinschmidt Teaching Award and the Richard Palmieri Outstanding Professor Award. In addition, he served as a Fulbright Research Chair at McGill University in Montreal during the 2006-07 academic year.

He received a doctorate and master’s degree in government from Georgetown University, after having received a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Missouri and a bachelor’s degree in government from Dartmouth College.

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