Dr. William M. Downs joined East Carolina University July 1, 2014, as the new Dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and as a professor of political science.
“I am both honored and excited to lead Harriot College as Dean. As I continue to learn more about Arts and Sciences at ECU, I gain even greater appreciation for the rich tradition of excellence that we have across a diverse range of disciplines and interdisciplinary programs,” said Downs. “I also sense a real appetite for building a new culture of continuous improvement, and I hope we can employ that positive energy in meaningful ways moving forward. Because Arts and Sciences are so indispensable to the University’s overall mission – and because our faculty are so committed to that mission – I cannot help but feel optimistic about the impact we can make.”
Downs’ most recent administrative appointment was as Area Dean for Social and Behavioral Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at Georgia State University, where he was a member of the faculty for 17 years. Prior to his service in the Dean’s Office at GSU, Downs served as Chair and Director of Graduate Studies of the Department of Political Science. Also while at GSU, Downs was founder and co-director of the interdisciplinary Center for Human Rights and Democracy and faculty coordinator for semester-long study abroad programs in Strasbourg, France, and Nottingham, England. For more than a decade, Downs coordinated the University’s Certificate Program in European Union Studies, combining traditional classroom learning with distance education and immersion experiences in Europe.
“Teaching remains a great passion for me, and I look forward to engaging ECU students in the classroom and through mentoring of individual projects in my home discipline of political science,” said Downs. “I offer courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels on political parties, legislative institutions, negotiation and bargaining, and political extremism.”
Downs has been a research fellow at Harvard University’s Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, a graduate research associate working on democratization movements at the Carter Center’s African Governance Program and a Fulbright dissertation researcher in Belgium. His research in political science has led to funded partnerships with faculty at Queens University, Belfast (Northern Ireland), the University of Strasbourg (France), and the University of Pretoria (South Africa).