The subject of political science was first introduced to the State Normal and Industrial College in the early 1910s and was managed under the Department of History. In 1919, the name of the Department of History was expanded to the Department of History and Political Science to reflect the broadened curriculum.
In 1959, the school began offering a political science major. The push to finally separate from the Department of History came after popularity in the subject grew such that by 1966 there were twenty-five political science majors. Margaret Hunt, the lead political scientist in the department at the time, was also asking for the addition of more faculty to diversify the program as it was clear that students were leaving after their sophomore year to complete their studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In 1970, the Department of History and Political Science was broken into two separate departments — the Department of History and the Department of Political Science. In 1976, the Department approved a master’s degree in Political Science.
Department of Political Science Heads/Chairs:
- David Olson (1971-1988)
- James Clotfelter (1988-1991)
- Lee Bernick (1991-1993)
- Charles Prysby (1993-2002)
- Ruth DeHoog (2002-2010)
- William E. Crowther (2010-)