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Professor earns prestigious fellowship at think tank in Washington, D.C.

| Judy Berthiaume

When Dr. Peter Myers begins his yearlong visiting fellowship this summer at one of the most respected and influential conservative think tanks in Washington, D.C., he’ll have some pretty big shoes to fill.

After all, the UW-Eau Claire political science professor will be taking the place of one of his former students, Scott Yenor, a Blugold who graduated in 1993.

“I’m told that the fellowship I am about to inherit presents a wonderful opportunity for intellectual exchange, both with the many policy experts who work at Heritage and also outside the organization,” Myers said of his fellowship at The Heritage Foundation. “I’m told this by the current Simon Fellow at Heritage, whose place I will take in August, who happens to be a UWEC grad, a former student of my own and a close friend in the profession.”

This spring, Myers received an $110,000 award from The Heritage Foundation Simon Center’s Visiting Fellowship in American Political Thought, a prestigious organization that has a long history of producing politically significant research.

“Perhaps excepting only the American Enterprise Institute, it stands as the single most influential source of such research on the conservative side of the aisle,” Myers said of The Heritage Foundation.

Myers' project, titled “A Dream Deeply Rooted: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for American Integration,” will result in a new book and a series of essays.

Myers is a longtime UW-Eau Claire professor whose areas of expertise include political philosophy, American political thought and U.S. Constitutional law.

His research interests include early modern political philosophy, liberal political philosophy and Afro-American political thought.

His work as a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation will tie directly into his teaching and research interests, Myers said.

“The subject matter forms a substantial part of two of my existing course offerings and may contribute substantially to a third,” Myers said of the fellowship. “I’ve previously authored a book on Frederick Douglass, which covers much of 19th century race relations in America, and so I thought before I finish with race relations and return to political philosophy proper — my first love — I need to figure out the 20th century and the present day. My projected book on MLK and the controversy over his legacy will help me do that.”

His future students will benefit directly and indirectly from his experiences as a fellow, Myers said.

“My time researching and writing at Heritage will help me become better educated myself and thus provide me with more learning and insight to share with my students,” Myers said. “It will also help me become better connected in the profession, and those connections can serve students in various ways, including enhancing the advice I give students regarding graduate or professional programs”

The knowledge and connections he will acquire by living and working for a year in the nation’s capital will benefit his students and the UW-Eau Claire campus as a whole, Myers said.

For example, he will be in a position to identify potential new internship or employment opportunities for Blugolds, and he will come in contact with experts who could be potential speakers to invite to campus, he said.

And, of course, many people will benefit from the book he will write during his fellowship year.

Some of the monies from the Heritage award will be used by UW-Eau Claire to cover costs associated with ensuring Myers’ classes and other faculty duties are covered during the 2016-17 academic year. The remaining dollars will support Myers’ relocation and living expenses during his fellowship

UW-Eau Claire’s support of the project reflects the university’s commitment to ensuring that faculty invest in their own scholarly projects so they can be even stronger teachers and mentors to their students, Myers said.

“The university has been extraordinarily generous and accommodating to enable me to take advantage of this opportunity,” Myers said. “Without the support of my department, beginning with our chair Geoff Peterson, along with Dean David Leaman and Provost Pat Kleine in particular, it would have been simply impossible for this to work. To them and to the institution at large I am enormously grateful.

“Their support reflects their appreciation of the importance of such projects to the national visibility of the university, to the continued professional development of the faculty we already employ, and to the prospective recruitment of ambitious new faculty.”

Photo caption: Dr. Peter Myers will spend a year as a visiting fellow at a prestigious think tank in Washington, D.C.