Q&A: Dan Tichenor

Photo of Dan Tichenor by Steve Smith

Daniel Tichenor, a political scientist who serves as the University of Oregon’s Phillip H. Knight Chair of Social Science and a Senior Faculty Fellow at the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, was recently named a 2015 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship recipient by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The $200,000 award, which is handed out to researchers in the humanities and social sciences pursuing challenges facing U.S. democracy and international order, will allow Tichenor to pursue his research examining the future of undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S.

The author of six books and more than fifty refereed journal articles and chapters, Tichenor will use the award to embark on a year-long research and writing sabbatical.  We spoke to him about the fellowship, what it will mean for his research and scholarship, and other issues.

QUESTION: Congratulations on receiving this award. Any thoughts on what it will mean for you?

ANSWER: I'm ecstatic to receive the Carnegie fellowship. It's a nice vote of confidence in my past work and my new research blueprints. But I'm most excited about the fact that Carnegie support will make it possible for me to finish research and writing on a book titled, "Democracy's Shadow: Undocumented Immigrants and the Quest for Inclusion." Most of us as social science faculty are juggling lots of demands. The Carnegie Fellowship is a godsend because it will allow me to focus more time and energy on this project.

Q: Your research seems to directly address the award stipulation posed by the Andrew Carnegie Corporation that work be focused on the challenges facing U.S. democracy and international order. Any other thoughts on why they selected you for this prestigious award?

A: I'm in the dark about why I was selected. But my proposal did speak directly to the Carnegie Corporation's call for problem-driven research that tackles a major challenge for U.S. democracy. In particular, I tried to clarify why permanent gradations of membership for undocumented immigrants is corrosive to liberal democracy, and why we should investigate the implications of this modern American dilemma for our political and social life.

Q: Any idea on when you will be taking your sabbatical and what you will be working on?

A: Much of my fellowship research effort will be divided between three activities: 1) Fieldwork in key states and cities with divergent policies and environments for immigrant inclusion and exclusion, such as New Mexico, North Carolina, Alabama, Maryland and other sites; 2) Interviews with movement activists and elected officials on different sides of this issue; and 3) Writing.

Q: Did you receive any assistance from the UO in applying for this fellowship?

A: The UO was instrumental in making this opportunity possible. University officers brought the Carnegie Fellowship to my attention in the first place. President Coltrane wrote a letter of nomination. David Frazee Johnson (UO director of foundation relations) kept me aware of the guidelines and made great suggestions in the proposal stage. And Josh Kerber (sponsored projects administrator) of Sponsored Projects Services helped on short notice with preparing a budget, since I started late and had a mad dash to the deadline.

Q: Why did you come to the University of Oregon? What do you like about the UO?

A:  I've been incredibly fortunate to land in a political science department that embraces research that addresses real-world problems, and that welcomes the kind of work I do at the intersection of politics, policy and history. I'm also energized by being part of an amazing team at Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, which provides so many great opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange and so effectively bridges scholars, political leaders, and community activists. And if you love the outdoors as much as my family does, it's easy to see why Oregon is hard to beat.