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Political science alum receives dissertation award

A College of Liberal Arts alum was honored for her dissertation on how United States universities handle the high expectations and low budgets of the current political climate.

by Haley Venglar ’19

College of Liberal Arts alum Amanda Rutherford received the Donald A. Gatzke Dissertation Award for her doctoral student work in the Department of Political Science.

“I think it is a nice honor and definitely an unexpected one,” said Rutherford. “It is so easy in your doctoral program to focus on finishing and just getting things done. You don’t do the work with the hopes of winning an award; you just want to have sound, scientific research that can potentially have some sort of societal or academic contribution.”

Rutherford earned her Ph.D. in 2015 after she defended her dissertation, “Politics, Perceptions, and Performance in Higher Education,” which examines how United States universities handle the high expectations and low budgets of the current political climate.

She was also recognized in 2015 with the George Kunze Award at for her superior academic achievements, including 10 publications in refereed journals. Additionally, Rutherford presented research at 18 national conferences and helped with the writing of multiple national grant applications. She attributes Texas A&M and Liberal Arts for much of her success.

“The political science department at A&M is top-notch,” said Rutherford. “Even when I visit other institutions, I believe that the socialization and training that I received in my doctoral program at Texas A&M is unmatched by any other university. The College of Liberal Arts is a great one and a lot of my success is a result of the awesome advisors that I got to work with while on campus.”

Rutherford is currently an assistant professor at the School of Environmental and Public Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington. She hopes that her work will continue to make a difference.

“To be recognized by those that are on the practitioner side of things that I study is really a nice compliment,” said Rutherford. “It provides even more motivation to continue researching and to disseminate that information to those who might be able to use it in their every day profession. It is a very nice honor to receive.”