2016 Political Science Symposium: Robert Morris University 2016 Political Science Symposium | Robert Morris University
Politics and Education

2016 Political Science Symposium

All are welcome to the annual Political Science Symposium at Robert Morris University.  

No RSVP is required.  

Tuesday, Oct. 25, 12:15-3:30
Robert Morris University – Sewall Center, International Suite



12:15  Refreshments and hors d'oeuvres


12:30  “Why Educators Have to be Political Animals," Mary Esther Van Shura


2:00  Panel Discussion: School Funding, Accountability, and Outcomes
 Moderator: Mary Ann Rafoth, Dean of the School of Education and Social Sciences, Robert Morris University
 Bob Dick, Senior Policy Analyst, Commonwealth Foundation  
 Lindsey Burke, Will Skillman Fellow in Education, Heritage Foundation  
 Jeff Garis, Outreach and Engagement Director, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center 
 Ronald Cowell, President, The Education Policy and Leadership Center 



Mary Esther Van Shura is a former teacher and an adjunct faculty member in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. She has coordinated presidential, U.S. Senate, state legislative, and municipal campaign activities.

Lindsey Burke is the Will Skillman fellow in education policy at The Heritage Foundation. There she researches and writes on federal and state education issues.  She has spoken on education reform issues across the country and internationally, on national and local television, and her work and commentary have been cited or appeared in national magazines such as The Atlantic, Time, and Newsweek. 


Ron Cowell is the president of The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC), an independent, non-partisan and not-for-profit organization based in Harrisburg.  He served as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for twenty-four years until 1998, which included service as the majority or minority chair of the House Committee on Education for twelve years.  He has also served for twelve years as a member of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, for twenty years as a board member of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), and has also held leadership positions with the Education Commission of the States, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the National Association of State Boards of Education.  


Bob Dick is a Senior Policy Analyst for the Commonwealth Foundation, working on a number of issues, including liquor privatization and education reform.  He is also a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute. He has been published in a number of papers across Pennsylvania, including The Intelligencer, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Harrisburg Patriot News, and the Delaware County Times.  


Jeff Garis is the Outreach and Engagement Director for the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC).  He is a graduate of Messiah College, and has more than a decade and a half of experience working with advocacy organizations in Pennsylvania, including working for several years as the field director for Pennsylvania Voice, the state political director for America Votes, and the executive director of Penn Action.

For More Information, Contact:

Kathryn Dennick-Brecht, Ed.D. 

Department Head, Social Sciences
Professor of Sociology
School of Education & Social Sciences

412-397-5419 Phone
412-397-6044 Fax
Nicholson Center 461
Moon Campus
More Info

New at RMU

Scholarships up to 50% off tuition, and graduate assistantships, for the Reading Specialist program

Literacy tutoring is also available for children through the Peirce Center for Structured Reading.