Political Science Major

In Memoriam, Professor Emeritus Oliver Woshinsky

USM Professor Emeritus Oliver Woshinsky had an illustrious career as a teacher and scholar of political science.  In 1971, he received his Ph.D. from Yale University.  In 1972, he coauthored an article in the prestigious journal World Politics that encouraged the discipline to pay greater attention to the emotional needs that drive politicians by presenting a typology based on empirical evidence from multiple countries.  He revised his dissertation into his first book The French Deputy: Incentives and Behavior in the National Assembly (1973).  The book uses interviews with 50 French deputies to shed insight into their incentives for political participation.  He later coauthored The Science of Politics: An Introduction to Hypothesis Formation and Testing (1982), The Motivations of Politicians (1984), and Approaching Democracy (1996). 

His later work highlighted the role of political culture.  In 1995, he published Culture and Politics: An Introduction to Mass and Elite Political Behavior.  After a distinguished 30-year teaching career, he retired from the University of Southern Maine in 2001.  His research continued with Explaining Politics: Culture, Institutions, and Political Behavior (2008).  The book was described by Professor Michael Margolis: “Each chapter exudes the enthusiasm and love of democratic politics that Woshinsky has imparted to students and colleagues… as a teacher and scholar.”  His final published article, which appeared in the Portland Press Herald in November 2018, used empirical analysis of voting patterns to reflect on Maine’s political culture.

Beyond political science, Woshinsky was a generous and engaging man who lived an eventful life.  At two weeks old, he survived the catastrophic 1939 flood in Tientsin, China, which killed an estimated 20,000 people, when his family found refuge one floor above the water level.  Further adventures are documented in Woshinsky’s 2015 cultural, political, and family history Conflicted Legacy: How a Missionary’s Daughter and a Young Jewish Man from Odessa Met in Minneapolis, Married in China and Raised an American Family.

Read the full obituary in the Portland Press Herald