Constitution Day Talk Sept. 19 – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Constitution Day Talk Sept. 19

The Office of the Provost and the Political Science Department will host Dr. Joel B. Grossman, a Johns Hopkins University political science professor and distinguished scholar, who will give the Constitution Day speech at 5 p.m. in Stern 103 on Thursday, Sept. 19. Grossman’s talk is titled “Can the Constitution Be Saved? Does It Need Saving?  Should It Be Saved?”

First instituted in 2005, Constitution Day commemorates the Sept. 17, 1787, signing of the Constitution by the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia; it was their final meeting. In honor of Constitution Day, the Colleges invite noted scholars and public figures to campus to engage in discussion about the Constitution and related subjects.

Recently named professor emeritus at JHU, Grossman brings a perspective informed by years of teaching and writing about constitutional law, constitutional theory, the Supreme Court, and the legal system.  Before he joined JHU in 1996, he taught at University of Wisconsin-Madison for 33 years. During his time there, he was chair of the department from 1975-78, editor of Law & Society Review from 1978-82, chair of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, and chair of the University Committee. In addition, he received the 1988 Emil Steiger Award for Excellence in Teaching. 

Among his many former students is HWS Associate Professor of Political Science Paul Passavant, who helped organize Grossman’s visit to campus.

“Dr. Grossman served as the advisor to numerous important scholars working today in the political science subfield of law and politics or the interdisciplinary field of law and society who received their Ph.D in political science at UW-Madison which, while Grossman was there, was THE place to study law and politics,” Passavant says.

Since arriving at JHU, Grossman has served as chair of the department as well as receiving the 2007 Excellence in Teaching Award from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at JHU. He also received the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award of the Law and Courts section of the American Political Science Association. He is co-editor of The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court (2005).

During his career, Grossman was the co-principal investigator for the Civil Litigation Project, which gathered empirical data about civil disputes and the process of disputing. This project opened up a new field of research for scholars to analyze the data and write articles.

Associate Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean of Faculty DeWayne Lucas says he is looking forward to hearing Grossman’s “long-term perspective on the American constitutional system, its history, its strengths and weaknesses, and opportunities to improve it.” In light of the upcoming speech, Lucas hopes the audience will take away “a deeper understanding and appreciation of our Constitution, what it does and doesn’t say, and a perspective on how to improve as a country, nation, and society.”