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C. Neal Tate, Chair of Political Science, Dies

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C. Neal Tate, professor and chair of the Depart-ment of Political Science, died unexpectedly September 13, 2009, as he recovered from surgery. Tate was 65.

“Neal Tate was a valued friend, an accomplished scholar and a leader of his department, the university and the discipline of political science,” says Carolyn Dever, dean of the College of Arts and Science and professor of English. “We will reap the benefits of his great work for many years to come.”

Tate, who also held an appointment at Vanderbilt Law School, was widely admired not only as a scholar but also for his administrative and interpersonal skills. Recruited to the College of Arts and Science from University of North Texas in 2003, Tate is credited with providing strong leadership in the rebuilding of the political science department. Under his direction, the department’s national reputation soared as it added esteemed faculty to its ranks.

Bruce Oppenheimer, professor of political science and acting department chair, calls Tate a first-rate person and friend who demonstrated great leadership. “Neal contributed a huge investment of his time and effort the past six years to guide our department,” he says, adding that the number of political science faculty increased by two-thirds under his watch.

As a political scholar, Tate specialized in comparative and American judicial politics. Other areas of academic interest were Third World politics and the military in politics. A distinguished editor and author, at the time of his death, Tate was working on a book project titled Political Repression, Human Rights and the Rule of Law: The Global Picture, 1976–2005.

In May, Tate was awarded the Alexander Heard Distinguished Service Professor Award, given annually to a Vanderbilt faculty member for distinctive contributions to the understanding of problems of contemporary society.

photo credit: John Russell

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