In 1965, Greenville College sent one of its undergraduates to Purdue University, James A. Stever. While at Purdue, Jim began to tackle the nuances of intergovernmental relations embedded in the modern federalism of the American State and never looked back. Over the next four decades, Jim would press the subfields within Political Science of public administration, intergovernmental relations, American political theory, and even security studies, to consider and reconsider the fundamentals that drove the relationships between local, state, and federal political entities. His four books challenged readers to think critically about institutional structures and organizational dynamics and provocatively assessed, "The End of Public Administration," and the "Path to Organizational Skepticism."
Jim's impact on the field was advanced through 35 scholarly articles published in the leading journals of the discipline and seven solicited book chapters. His worked carved out new connections based on his link between pragmatic American Political Thought and the literature of organizational theory in such pieces as, "The Parallel Universes: Pragmatism and Public Administration."
The respect for Jim's thoughtful and critical approach found many journal editors turning to him for review of the field with over 25 published book reviews and review essays, which earned him the Laverne Burkfield Award in 1995 for best book review.
In the immediate aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001, Jim recognized the daunting re-organization in both government structure and thought that was about to occur and over the last decade turned his expertise to issues of homeland security. His expertise led to his appointment to the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center at Kansas State University. He led an effort within the State of Ohio to link UC with local Emergency Management Agencies and Federal offices as the new Department of Homeland Security was created. In recent years, Stever's critical eye has been applied to the emerging threat of cybersecurity and all of its challenges to the manner in which government organizes and relates to the private sphere.
Professor Stever actually began his classroom experiences in the public school environments of Bethalto, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the late 1960s. After three years of military service as a 1st Lt in the US Army and completion of the doctorate at Purdue, Jim brought his intellectual capacity to the University of Cincinnati. Jim's approach to the classroom paralleled his scholarship linking for students a critical analytical approach with a pragmatic orientation toward real world solutions. The Stever student can think through difficult big political issues and offer practical solutions and, importantly, evaluate their prospects for success.
Not surprisingly as a student and scholar of administration, Jim Stever also brought to the University a dedication to administrative service. For nine years, Jim directed a highly successful MPA program that trained many of the local government officials around the Cincinnati region and he served as MA/PhD director for an additional five years. Most importantly, Jim served the department through two separate stints as Department Head. During those headships, Jim was able to initiate important hiring of new faculty as the department transitioned through a significant set of retirements. During those periods of flux, Jim pushed the department not to tread water, but think strategically about areas of focus and expertise and kept the department moving forward.
If there is one take away ultimately from this pragmatic political scientist's approach to the profession that many of his colleagues hold is the notion of balance. Jim always tried to find the balance between competing pressures, be they intellectual debates, bureaucratic agencies, department and university administration or higher education and the practical world. His colleagues will always remember a true scholar, who liked to wear a John Deere hat. It is a great visual that truly captures the man.