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Zuckert earns achievement award

Dan Brombach | Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Political science professor Michael Zuckert recently won the Jack Miller Center Chairman’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his extensive work in political theory.

The award recognized Zuckert for his outstanding scholarship and his work as a classroom teacher. Zuckert provided generations of students with a profound knowledge of American constitutional heritage, according to a statement released by the prize committee.

Zuckert said he feels privileged to join the illustrious ranks of past recipients.

“My predecessors in this award are very distinguished people, and I’m proud to be in their company,” he said.

Zuckert said he didn’t know he would receive the award until a colleague surprised him with the news the day it was given.

“I didn’t actually find out I was getting the award until the day it was supposed to be handed out,” Zuckert said. “Somebody slipped the news to me at lunch on accident.”

In addition to writing and teaching in his main fields of political theory and constitutional studies, Zuckert organized a new constitutional studies field that will begin next semester. He also edits the journal ‘American Political Thought.’

Zuckert said the responsibility that came with editing the journal played a key role in receiving the award.

“The award is definitely in some degree for me editing that journal, which makes contributions to the understanding of the American political tradition,” Zuckert said.

Zuckert said it was ultimately his college experience at Cornell University that motivated him to pursue a career in political science. He said he was influenced by the quality of his teachers and the political climate of the time.

“I was in college in the ‘60s when there were a lot of exciting things going on politically, and I was also fortunate enough to go to a college where we had really good faculty in political science,” Zuckert said. “They reinforced my interest in the subject.”

Aside from making the new constitutional studies field a success, Zuckert said his other major goal at the moment is to finish a trilogy of books on constitutional theory spanning ancient Greece to the modern era.

“I’ve been working on it for a long time, and at this point I just want to get it off my desk,” he said.

The opportunity to teach and interact with students on a daily basis is the most rewarding part of his job, Zuckert said.

“I very much like working with the students here,” he said. “That would be my number one thing.”

Ultimately, Zeckert said he is grateful for the assistance and the opportunities Notre Dame has provided him over the course of his career at the University.

“The administration has been extremely helpful in facilitating the work that I’m trying to do,” he said. “This is a university that I think is committed to keeping alive the tradition of political theory and making sure it thrives, and I think they’ve done a great job of supporting us.”