Just A Little History

Before the 1970’s, James Madison University was a small teaching college operating under the name Madison College. There was no specialized Political Science department, as all of the social sciences operated under the Department of Social Sciences. This fact makes it very difficult to locate information about the sub-department of Political Science before it’s split from the Department of Social Sciences. However, Paul C. Cline, a fairly recently retired professor of Political Science, took the time to document his experiences a new professor to the department in 1961. His memoirs and musing reveal much about his interactions with students and colleagues, the curriculum, and the overall culture of Madison College.

The link below leads to the first of Dr. Cline’s memoirs in its entirety.

Early Political Science at Madison College (2)

Cline describes an environment in which professors were spread thinly across disciplines and reflects almost nostalgically upon when the Departments were separated in 1969. “The Department of History was formed from the Social Science and History Department, and later, in 1969, the Social Sciences were divided among the Departments of Sociology and Social Work, chaired by Elmer Smith; Economics, chaired by a retired U1lited States Agriculture Department administrator, Turley Mace; and Political Science and Geography, chaired by yours truly (giving me responsibilities in two fields which I knew too little about)” (Cline 2). Despite his self-depreciation, Cline’s memoir becomes markedly more lighthearted after his discussion of this split, revealing his appreciation for the opportunity for specialization in specific disciplines. It is apparent that, although he may not have felt completely qualified to teach the courses that he was now required to teach, Cline thought that the creation of a separate political science department was beneficial for Madison as whole.

The link below leads to the second of Dr. Cline’s memoirs in its entirety.

Madison Moments (2)

Cline provided another memoir, which he entitled “Madison Moments”. As the title eludes, this memoir is catered specifically to particularly memorable moments in Mr. Cline’s career at Madison College. He reflects on learning how to be a successful teacher, the unwavering support he received from fellow professors while he waded through his doctoral studies, and his experiences while a part of the faculty softball team (Cline 1-3). His reflections offer invaluable insight into student and faculty life leading up to the 1970’s. Perhaps the most surprising of his memories is the extent of his travels with the Madison College Model United Nations. It is impressive that such a small institution was invited to participate in Model UN meetings at Duke University, the University of South Carolina, and the University of North Carolina. Although Cline only reflects on his appreciation for a break from the cold weather of Harrisonburg, from a modern, James Madison University, perspective the breadth of these travels is impressive and unexpected. They may also have been unknown if Paul C. Cline had not considered them an exceptionally memorable part of his early career. For more information on the early days of Model United Nations at Madison College/James Madison University click here.

In his, Early Political Science at Madison College, Paul Cline creates an image of the university just before the start of the 1970’s. This image includes passionate faculty members and a newly divided Social Sciences Department that was hastily attempting to become fully functioning, separate, and competitive Departments of Sociology and Social Work, Economics, and Political Science and Geography. The Political Science Department embraced this split and, throughout the 1970’s, evolved into a competitive program with relevant coursework and knowledgeable faculty that fully prepared its students for life in working world of the 1970’s.


Works cited

Cline, Paul C. Early Political Science at Madison College. 2011. Memoir. Madison College, Harrisonburg.

Cline, Paul C. Madison Moments. 2007. Memoir. Madison College, Harrisonburg.