Endowed Chair

carl vinson

Carl Vinson Endowed Chair

The Carl Vinson Chair of Political Science and Public Administration was established on November 18, 1980. Following three years of fund raising, Larry Elowitz Ph.D. became the first professor to fill the chair position in 1983. 

Dr. Elowitz filled the position with distinction until 2010. The chair position remained unfilled until the Fall of 2014, when Henry Edmondson, Ph.D. was nominated and took up the position. In Summer 2020, Dr. Brandy Kennedy was awarded the position. 

The purpose of the Carl Vinson Chair of Political Science and Public Administration is to enrich the education of Georgia College students, support the activity of the faculty of the Department of Government and Sociology, deepen the academic life of the university, and  promote the life and legacy of Congressman Carl Vinson.

About Carl Vinson

The legacy of Carl Vinson is not only a Milledgeville treasure, but given his enormous influence on the development of the U.S. Armed Forces, his legacy is both national and international. Georgia College University Advancement now occupies the Vinson House, his Milledgeville boyhood home; and his Congressional orange-toned antique work desk is now in Georgia College Special Collections. 

Vinson’s early years were spent in the middle Georgia area. He was one of seven children born to Edward S. and Ann Vinson on a farm near Milledgeville in 1883. Vinson earned a law degree from Mercer University in 1902 and began his practice in his hometown.

Vinson’s political career began in Milledgeville where he served as County Prosecutor and Judge. He would also serve a stint as a state legislator. Vinson's national career in the House of Representatives began in November 1914, just days before his thirty-first birthday, a post he would hold until 1964—50 consecutive years. During his tenure in the House, Vinson served under nine Presidents, from Wilson to Johnson.  He was once asked why he did not accept any of the several presidential invitations to become Secretary of Defense, to which he reputedly replied, “Why should I, when I can run the Department of Defense from the Armed Services Committee in the House of Representatives?”

Vinson’s signature theme was military preparedness and national security. He did not come to this position easily or quickly; on the contrary, his leanings were more isolationist as was the case with many of his time. The devastation of WWI, however, converted him to a different attitude and WWII further convinced him of the importance national self-preservation. In 1916, Vinson supported “the largest building program ever undertaken by any government in the history of the world for strengthening a navy.”

Accordingly, during his distinguished career, Vinson was responsible for the expansion of the U.S. military, particularly the Navy. He is widely known as “The Father of the Two Ocean Navy,” which refers to the U.S. naval fleets that are housed on both the Atlantic as well as the Pacific coasts. He also helped to ensure the continued existence of the United States Marine Corps, and kept funding for the Department of Defense intact despite legislative efforts to reduce it. He is credited with advocating military preparedness and his efforts to expand the Air Force, Marines and the Navy pre-dated the attack on Pearl Harbor and the American entrance into World War II. After the war Vinson continued to work for a strong military.

Vinson was known for his quiet leadership and integrity—and his effectiveness. His leadership style was quiet and unassuming—but quite effective. Vinson was not only an effective leader, he was widely known as a man of integrity. He declined to enjoy many of the privileges of his position, rarely traveling, and living in relative simplicity, preferring to retreat to his Baldwin County farm whenever possible. He thought that military preparedness, moreover, was a non-partisan pursuit, and thus he offers yet another example of what real leadership consists. At the same time he combined that integrity with shrewdness: he was not born a farmer; rather, he became a farmer to better identify with the concerns of his constituents in Georgia’s Tenth and later, Sixth, Districts. 

Vinson possessed encyclopedic knowledge not only of the U.S. Navy, but also—and necessarily—encyclopedic knowledge of the navies of most other major countries. His knowledge and integrity combined to make him an extremely capable leader. One colleague noted, “The Old Operator can get more results by raising his eyebrows than most men do by two hours of desk pounding." A political opponent admitted that Vinson combined “statesmanship and cunning to a rare degree."

Today, Congressman Carl Vinson’s name is best known by its association with the USS Carl Vinson, the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (CVN-70). The ship was named in honor of Congressman Vinson for all of his work on behalf of the United States Navy in particular, and on behalf of the Armed Forces, in general. This United States Naval Vessel was commissioned on March 13, 1982, in Newport News, Va. The Nimitz class carriers are the largest in the world—three football fields in length and over thirty stories high—and each carrier houses a crew of five thousand sailors and over one hundred military aircraft. The informal name of the Vinson is “America’s Favorite Carrier,” and the ship was most recently in the news because it was the ship from which Osama Bin Laden was put to rest. Visitors to the U.S.S. Carl Vinson Facebook page are greeted with the following quote about the ship’s namesake: 

“The primary duty of government is self-preservation and no logic can justify stripping itself of its means of defense and relying upon the mercy, the pity, or the love of other nations” --Congressman Carl Vinson, 1934

For more information on the USS Carl Vinson, please visit the ship’s home page here. Recent news items about the ship can be found here and here.

The Georgia College Ina Dillard Russell Library houses the Carl Vinson Memorial Exhibit on the Third Floor; and, the library website has a section devoted to Vinson which is available here.

Note: Portions of this material were taken from the Special Collections website of the Ina Dillard Russell Library

About Brandy Kennedy Ph.D.

Brandy Kennedy, Ph.D. is a full professor of Political Science and Public Administration with the Department of Government and Sociology at GCSU.  Her teaching and research interests include representation, bureaucracy, and political behavior.  Her publications focus on representative bureaucracy which examines the link between demographic representation of historically underserved populations and improved service outcomes.   Race and Representative Bureaucracy in American Policing (2018) by Kennedy, Butz, Lajevardi, and Nanes applies the theory of representative bureaucracy to issues of race and policing.  Their findings suggest police forces that are more demographically representative will have more positive outcomes across various measures such as fewer excessive force complaints. Her current work analyzes the influence of representation on teacher satisfaction and tenure.  

Program of Work

The purpose of the Vinson Chair of Political Science and Public Administration is to enrich the education of Georgia College students, support the activity of the faculty of the Department of Government and Sociology, deepen the academic life of the university; and, promote the life and legacy of Congressman Carl Vinson. To that end, the Chair promotes and supports several activities for the university and the department. They include: 

Scholarships

--Department of Government and Sociology Carl Vinson Chair Undergraduate Research Conference Award
Each year, the Carl Vinson Chair For Political Science and Public Administration offers two scholarships of $250 each for support for graduate conference presentations/activity.

Sponsored by the Carl Vinson Chair of Political Science and Public Administration, the purpose of these funds to offset the costs of travel and registration for the presentation and dissemination of original research done by undergraduate students in the department of Government & Sociology at Georgia College. 

The Carl Vinson Award is designated for a paper or presentation that reflects the Vinson legacy.  Research proposals submitted for this award should be connected to one of the following themes: leadership, ethics, national security/defense, or military policy (especially, but not exclusively, naval policy).  If a student does submit a paper for the consideration of this award then he or she should also submit a paragraph, in the same document, explaining their paper’s connection to one of these themes with the application.  Each Vinson Award is valued at $250 with at least two being awarded each year.  

All funds will be announced prior to conference participation, however, monies will be distributed as reimbursement for student expenditures, so all relevant receipts must be retained and submitted.

Award recipients must submit reimbursement requests within 30 days of their return. 

Application should be made by letter, both a hard and digital copy, in which the student provides a brief personal introduction and an overview of the conference paper indicating its connection to the Vinson legacy. The letter should be accompanied by a student resume. All applications should be made to: 

Professor Brandy Kennedy
Carl Vinson Chair of Political Science & Public Administration
Department of Government and Sociology, CBX 018
Georgia College
Milledgeville, Ga. 31061

The digital submission should be sent to:
brandy.kennedy@gcsu.edu

The deadline for applications is November 15 for Fall Semester conference activity and February 15 for Spring Semester

--Department of Government and Sociology Carl Vinson Chair MPA Graduate Scholarships for Conference Presentations/Activity 
Each year, the Carl Vinson Chair For Political Science and Public Administration offers two scholarships of $250 each for support for graduate conference presentations/activity. 

Sponsored by the Carl Vinson Chair of Political Science and Public Administration, the purpose of these funds to offset the costs of travel and registration for the presentation and dissemination of original research done by Masters in Public Administration students in the department of Government & Sociology at Georgia College. 

The Carl Vinson Award is designated for a paper or presentation that the Vinson legacy.  Accordingly, research proposals submitted for this award should be connected, in some way, to one of the following themes: leadership, ethics, national security/defense, or military policy. Depending on the number of paper proposals, these guidelines may be interpreted broadly. 

To apply for this scholarship, the student should submit a letter introducing himself/herself and providing a two to three paragraph summary of the paper in which the paper is summarized and the connection with the Vinson legacy themes is indicated. Documentation should also be included verifying the acceptance and scheduling of the paper at the relevant conference. Finally, a brief cv/resume should be attached. 

All funds will be announced prior to conference participation; however, funds will be distributed subsequent to the conference as reimbursement for student expenditures.  

Award recipients must submit reimbursement requests within 30 days of their return but no later than May 30, 2015. 

The student should submit both an electronic and a hard copy of the letter of application to: 

Professor Brandy Kennedy
Carl Vinson Chair for Political Science & Public Administration Department of Government and Sociology
CBX 018
Georgia College
Milledgeville, Ga. 31061-0490

The digital submission should be sent to:brandy.kennedy@gcsu.edu

The deadline for applications is November 15 for Fall Semester conference activity and February 15 for Spring Semester conference activity.

--Department of Government and Sociology Carl Vinson Chair Undergraduate/Graduate Vinson Archives Research Award 
Each year, the Carl Vinson Chair For Political Science and Public Administration offers one scholarships of $250 for support for undergraduate or graduate research in the Carl Vinson archives housed in the Georgia College library. Sponsored by the Carl Vinson Chair of Political Science and Public Administration, the purpose of this award is to encourage and advance the use of the Vinson archives and promote the Vinson legacy. 

The research may be undertaken from a variety of disciplines and should result in at least a ten page classroom or conference paper. Please note the student may apply for this scholarship in conjunction with the Vinson Chair conference presentation scholarships. 

Application should be made by letter, both a hard and digital copy, in which the student provides a brief personal introduction and an overview of the Vinson archives research proposal. The letter should be accompanied by a student resume. All applications should be made to: 

Professor Brandy Kennedy
Carl Vinson Chair of Political Science & Public Administration
Department of Government and Sociology, CBX 018
Georgia College
Milledgeville, Ga. 31061

The digital submission should be sent to:
brandy.kennedy@gcsu.edu

The deadline for applications is November 15 for Fall semester consideration and February 15 for Spring Semester consideration.

Lectures

----An Annual Carl Vinson Chair Lecture on Leadership and Ethics, delivered by the Vinson Chair occupant, on the way in which leadership, ethics and literature intersect in an interdisciplinary manner and the lessons for ethical leadership that might be drawn from this interdisciplinary synthesis.

--A biannual (twice a year) campus-wide Carl Vinson Chair Symposium with invited expert speakers. Each fall semester the symposium is entitled the Carl Vinson Chair Symposium on Leadership and Ethics. The Spring symposium each year is entitled the Carl Vinson Chair Symposium on Military Preparedness and International Relations.