May 16, 2012
|(Photo by Judy Watson Tracy)
While it’s been 43 years since Hugh McKean was president of Rollins, in many ways his spirit lives on at the College today. One such way is with the McKean Grant, an annual cash award established in 1982 by Hugh and Jeannette McKean that provides a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for a faculty member to accomplish what would otherwise be deemed impossible in a single professional career.
Well known for his intellectual curiosity and generous spirit, McKean envisioned the grant as an amazing opportunity whereby a faculty member could strategize and undertake a project from start to finish, a project not typically feasible utilizing normal Rollins resources, such as research and professional development funds.
Over the years, this annual $15,000 research award has permitted winning faculty members to undertake research projects, artistic works, and teaching related projects that have contributed to the mission of Rollins College.
Each year, submitted proposals are reviewed and evaluated by a jury comprised of Rollins alumni who are scholars at other colleges and universities. This year, six jurors were given the responsibility of reviewing 17 proposals examining a wide variety of topic from Jai Alai, to murder, to tourism, to food.
On May 2, Provost Carol Bresnahan announced the 2012 winner as Professor of Political Science Donald Davison, whose project proposal aims at the subject of political participation by previously excluded groups.
“The McKean Grant allows outstanding Rollins faculty to pursue meaningful projects. This year professor Don Davison, who prevailed over very tough competition, will put the award to great use,” Bresnahan said. “I look forward to the ways in which he will use his grant to undertake this fascinating research and to bring that research into his classroom work with our students.”
Davison, a specialist in constructing original data sets for research and teaching purposes, focused his initial research on the consequences of the 1965 Voting Rights Act – specifically, how minority participation produced a partisan realignment in the South.
Davison’s proposed future research will examine rapid Hispanic population increases in the U.S. and whether these growing Hispanic populations produce a partisan realignment, thereby limiting the pursuit of equality.
“Civil rights laws guarantee political participation, but not the quality of democratic inclusion and representation,” Davison said. “Is the increasing Hispanic population spawning a party realignment similar to the response to black enfranchisement in the South? The McKean grant will enable me to create a unique data set for the analysis of this question.”
Davison will be collecting demographic, economic, and political data, which will allow him to launch an empirical investigation into the quality of democracy of the Hispanic population.
“Current research on the Hispanic vote neglects its effect on party coalitions,” Davison said. “Understanding the partisan consequences of reactions to increased Hispanic participation offers meaningful information for assessing the nature of democratic equality. The McKean Grant will not only enable me to travel to state capitals to interview party officials and collect the original data, but it will allow my students and me to undertake a timely investigation of the nature of American democracy in this period of Hispanic population growth.”