Paul D. Coverdell Visiting Scholar

paul coverdell


An affiliation between Paul D. Coverdell and GCSU began in the latter half of 1990 when former GCSU president, Dr. Edwin G. Speir, signed an agreement to begin the Peace Corps Fellows/USA Program at Georgia College. Coverdell later signed a gift agreement at Georgia College & State University in the fall of 1996, donating his Peace Corps papers to Ina Dillard Russell Library.

The establishment of the Paul D. Coverdell Endowed Chair in Policy Studies was announced by President Dorothy Leland in her Convocation Address in September 2008. Dr. Roger Coate, Professor of Political Science and Public Administration, was chosen as the first Coverdell Chair, arriving at Georgia College in 2009 after a long and distinguished career at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Coate served as Coverdell Chair for a decade, bringing many speakers to campus from around the globe to address public policy issues. In 2019, the Coverdell position became the Paul D. Coverdell Visiting Scholar program.

The Chair has been charged with the responsibility of  being the focal point for the university’s multifaceted initiatives in public policy studies and bringing faculty and students from various disciplines together in analyzing the various dimensions of major public problems. The Coverdell Chair works closely with the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to bring to Georgia College courses and programming in the area of public policy that embody the values and high standards for which Senator Coverdell tirelessly strove.

The Coverdell Visiting Scholar is housed in an academic department within the College of Arts and Sciences for the semester of residency, teaching a course on an area of academic expertise. In conjunction with the office of the dean, the scholar will also lead campus conversations, meetings, and public events that pertain to topics of public policy in research areas and approached from a global perspective. Our goal is that these visiting scholars will continue the fine work Dr. Coate accomplished as Coverdell Chair and also embody the values, interests, and high standards for which Senator Coverdell tirelessly strove.

About Paul Coverdell

Paul D. Coverdell was born on January 20, 1939, in Des Moines, Iowa. He received a BS in Journalism from the University of Missouri in 1961. He was awarded two honorary degrees: a Doctor of Law from Mercer University and a Doctor of Business Administration from Piedmont College. He was married to Nancy Nally Coverdell of Georgia.

Soon after finishing college, Coverdell began service in the Army in 1962 as a Captain in Okinawa, Taiwan and Korea. After his military service, Coverdell moved to Atlanta in 1964 and worked with his father in the founding of Coverdell & Co. Inc., an insurance marketing business. Paul Coverdell was named company president in 1965 and would later become CEO of the family business.

After an unsuccessful attempt at the Georgia Senate in 1968, Coverdell ran again in 1970, winning a Republican seat in the Georgia State Senate. As a Georgia State Senator, Coverdell began serving as Senate Minority Leader in 1974, a position he held until his resignation from the Georgia Senate in 1989. As a State Senator, Coverdell was concerned about education, drug abuse and juvenile detention services. During his tenure, he lobbied for pension reform, supported DUI legislation and worked to raise Georgia's legal drinking age.

In January 1989 Paul Coverdell was nominated by President George Bush to serve as Director of the Peace Corps, due in part to his lifelong commitment to humanitarian efforts in the state of Georgia. President Bush swore Coverdell into office in an Oval Office ceremony on May 2, 1989. That same year Coverdell stepped down as president of Coverdell and Co. Inc, in order to devote all of his energy to his service at the Peace Corps.

While Paul Coverdell served as director of the Peace Corps, the world saw great political change that affected the agency's efforts. Chinese students protested the Communist government in Tienanmen Square just as Coverdell became Peace Corps Director in 1989. The Tienanmen Square Massacre effectively postponed the Peace Corps' hard won agreement to send volunteers to China with the China One program. The Cold War came to an end in 1989 with the reunification of Germany and the fall of Communism, a revolution that allowed the Peace Corps to enter countries that had not previously welcomed the assistance of Western governments. The Persian Gulf War began in the summer of 1990, with the United States sending over 400,000 troops from late 1990 through early 1991 and affecting volunteers serving in Muslim countries.

As director, Coverdell initiated a program called World Wise Schools, which links students in the United States with Peace Corps volunteers serving around the world. During the time Coverdell was in office, the World Wise Schools program connected volunteers with 5,000 classrooms in the United States. The program continues to grow with volunteers working with more than 7,000 teachers across the United States.

In September 1991, Coverdell resigned as director of the Peace Corps to pursue a Republican seat in the United States Senate. President Bush showed his support for Coverdell and Barbara Bush campaigned for him during the senate race. He successfully won the seat in 1992 in a runoff election against Democrat Wyche Fowler. Coverdell was re-elected to his senate seat in 1998, defeating Democrat Michael Coles.

Coverdell was known by his peers in the US Senate for being a hardworking, intelligent and devoted Senator. As a United States Senator, Coverdell supported the war against drugs and violence and worked to ensure a good education for all children. He sponsored efforts to allow parents to create special tax fee savings accounts for their children's educational future. As Chairman of the Agriculture subcommittee on Marketing, Inspection and Product Promotion, Coverdell promoted Georgia's agriculture and worked to ensure food safety. Coverdell also served on the Small Business Committee working to create a fairer tax code. Coverdell supported volunteerism throughout his career. In June 1997 President Clinton signed into law Coverdell's Volunteer Protection Act, a law that protects volunteers, nonprofit organizations and governmental entities from lawsuits when they are involved in charitable and non-profit activities. Coverdell also worked hard to combat problems concerning drugs in the state of Georgia and worked to impose stiffer penalties for drug smugglers and dealers. Coverdell served on the subcommittee for Foreign Relations and has worked in Georgia to initiate Operation Drug-Free Georgia.

Coverdell served as secretary to the Senate Republican Conference and was in line to become chairman of that committee at the end of 2000. He was also named chairman for the Senate Republican Task Force on Education.

After experiencing a cerebral hemorrhage the weekend of July 15, 2000, Senator Coverdell underwent surgery at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta on July 17. He died on July 18 after undergoing the serious brain surgery. The death of Coverdell is a great loss for the state of Georgia and the United States Senate. Senator Coverdell was known by his peers for not letting partisan politics influence his beliefs. He is remembered for his high standard of ethics and his humble attitudes. At the time of his death, Senator Coverdell was the fourth ranking Republican in the United States Senate.

(Taken from Ina Dillard Library's web site.)

Fall 2023: George Kieh


Kieh Headshot

George Klay Kieh, Jr. is currently Professor of Political Science & Public Administration at Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas and Professor of International Relations, Graduate School, African Methodist Episcopal University, Monrovia, Liberia. Prior to this, he served as  the Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs  at Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Political Science at the University of West Georgia, Dean of International Affairs and Professor of Political Science &African and African American Studies at Grand Valley State University, Michigan, Chair of the Department of Political Science and Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, Interim Chair of the Department of Criminology at the University of West Georgia, Founding Director of the Conflict and Development Studies Institute at Morehouse College, Founding Director of the Center for International Studies at Morehouse College, and Director of the International Studies Program and Assistant Professor (later Associate Professor) of Political Science at Illinois Wesleyan University.

            His teaching and research interests include democratization and democracy, governance, elections, the state, peace and conflict studies, security studies, American foreign policy, development studies, international cooperation, and political economy. He has authored, co-authored, edited and co-edited 27 books, 5 monographs, 99 book chapters, and 77 journal articles.

            He has received numerous teaching, research, and leadership awards, including Professor of the Year, Illinois Wesleyan University, Outstanding Research Award, College of Social Sciences, University of West Georgia, and the American Association of University Professor-Georgia Chapter’s Warren Akin IV Award.


Fall 2022: Victoria Gordon
Gordon Headshot

Dr. Victoria Gordon is a recently retired professor from Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky, where she taught for sixteen years in the Department of Political Science, Master of Public Administration program, and served as the Director of the Center for Local Governments. Dr. Gordon’s areas of research interest include municipal finance and human resources management, and her service has most recently focused on women and politics, with a particular focus on the 19th Amendment and the importance of exercising the right to vote. Her scholarly work is published in Economic Development Quarterly, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Public Personnel Management, International Journal of Public Administration, Journal of Public Affairs Education and Public Voices. Dr. Gordon is the author of two books–Maternity Leave: Policy and Practice (2020 second edition) and Participatory Budgeting in the United States: A Guide for Local Governments (2017). She earned her Doctor of Public Administration degree from the University of Illinois–Springfield, and her Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Kansas. Dr. Gordon has served as a city clerk, as a county housing department director, and as a city administrator. 

Fall 2021: Amir Moheet
Amir Moheet





Amir Moheet holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and was a David L. Boren U.S. Doctoral Fellow in Turkey. A former refugee and asylee, Amir served as an Officer with the Refugee, Asylum and International Operations Directorate, where he worked on and adjudicated cases of global migration and international human rights law related to persecution, credible fear, asylum and refugee status.

Amir’s teaching and research bring together normative and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of democratic justice and social (non)movements in contexts where there is a high risk of state repression. He has taught across the departments of political science and ethnic studies at the University of Hawaiʻi and was a visiting scholar at Bilkent University in Turkey. 

His Global Migration course explores substantive public policy questions of human mobility, including the role that international law, violence and war, citizenship, anti-immigrant politics, and racism play in producing policy outcomes across the world. Emphasizing the normative aspects of policy, the course centers the causes and consequences of migration policy through empirical and theoretical investigations that bring to bear broader ethical implications for democracy, society and reform. 

At GCSU, Amir will be working on his first book manuscript, Global Refugee Justice, which examines processes of human displacement due to war, violence, and persecution. It argues that sub-national solutions to problems arising from the absence of effective legal regimes are becoming the norm, with migrants themselves increasingly at the forefront of championing the cause of their own human rights.  


Fall 2020: Robert E. Wright
Robert Wright

Robert E. "Bob" Wright is a Senior Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research and the Treasurer of Historians Against Slavery, an international NGO that leverages historical understandings of slavery and abolition to aid activists as they seek to reduce the number of people enslaved globally today. He is the (co)author or (co)editor of over two dozen books, book series, and edited collections mainly on aspects of economic history and policy.​

​Since taking his Ph.D. in History from SUNY Buffalo in 1997, Wright has taught business, economics, and policy courses at Augustana University, New York University’s Stern School of Business, Temple University, the University of Virginia, and elsewhere. ​

​Dr. Wright is teaching a GC2Y on global slavery. The course explores changes in human slavery over time (10,000 BCE to the present), place (the entire world), and ideology (set of beliefs), with emphasis on forced international and intercontinental human migration and slavery’s effects on enslavers and enslaved, as well as economies and ecologies.​

Fall 2019: Marisa Ensor
Marisa Ensor

Marisa Ensor will join Georgia College in the fall of 2019 as the Inaugural Paul Coverdell Visiting Fellow.  Dr. Ensor is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of International Migration at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. ​While she is an anthropologist by trade, she  has worked in peace and conflict studies academically and professionally with organizations such as the United Nations. Her fall 2019 course, Conflict Analysis & Resolution, will introduce students to conflict causation, management and resolution from interdisciplinary theoretical and practical perspectives. Her experience working with the United Nations in a peace-building capacity positions her well for the purposes of the Coverdell program, which emphasizes domestic and foreign public policy issues, global democracy, and peacemaking. Ensor’s academic training and peacebuilding and research initiatives in areas like the South Sudan and Columbia make her an invaluable mentor to numerous students who anticipate pursuit of peacebuilding careers.