School of Politics and Global Studies welcomes Barbara Sinclair Lecture Award winner to faculty


September 22, 2023

Professor Steven Smith may be new to Arizona State University's School of Politics and Global Studies, but he's not new to the field. He has been working as a social scientist for more than 44 years.

During that time, Smith has authored 13 books and over 80 articles and book chapters about U.S. Congress and legislative politics, accomplishments that contributed to his being recognized by the American Political Science Association with the 2023 Barbara Sinclair Lecture Award in August — and also to being recruited by ASU.
ASU Professor Steven Smith smiles in an outdoor setting. Steven Smith Download Full Image

“I was of retirement age and ready to end my time with Washington University when my wife was offered a job out here, so moving to Phoenix had the added bonus of being where my wife is,” Smith quipped. “When ASU heard about me and my career, we started working on a way for me to teach courses here that would work for me.”

While Smith’s wife serves as the director of the School of Social Work, he is looking forward to interacting with students at the School of Politics and Global Studies.

The selection committee for the Barbara Sinclair Lecture Award said that part of what influenced their decision to present Smith with the award was the impact he has had on past students.

"(Any) discussion of Steve Smith’s impact would be remiss without mention of his former PhD students throughout the academy," the committee stated. "He’s at the top of his generation in terms of training students who go on to successful careers as academics themselves.”

For Smith, the award, which is given to honor achievements in promoting understanding of the U.S. Congress and legislative politics, was a huge honor.

“It means a great deal to me; (Barbara Sinclair) was a great friend of mine, probably the one person in political science whose research was close to my own,” he said. “The biggest honor was to receive an award in her name, and it is quite an honor to receive what is a lifetime accomplishment kind of award from the American Political Science Association.

The committee also noted that "while many other Congress scholars of his generation have focused on the role and impact (or lack thereof) of parties, Smith’s research has shown the power of specific institutional procedures (e.g., the filibuster, special rules, judicial review and more) on the policymaking process."

Before coming to ASU, Smith was the Kate M. Gregg Emeritus Professor of Social Sciences and former director of the Weidenbaum Center at Washington University, as well as a faculty member of the University of Minnesota, George Washington University and Northwestern University. He was also a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

He has written several books, including but not limited to: "The Senate Syndrome: The Evolution of Parliamentary Warfare in the Modern U.S. Senate" (2014), "Politics or Principle: Filibustering in the United States Senate" (1997), and "Call to Order: Floor Politics in the House and Senate" (1989). His latest book, "Steering the Senate: The Development of Party Leadership in the U.S. Senate," is expected out next year.

Since coming to Phoenix, Smith and his wife have been enjoying exploring ASU and the surrounding sights and scenes.

“(My wife and I) enjoy big-time sports, theater and music, and are finding our way around the Phoenix community," he said. "I love year-round tennis — well, summers not so much."

Grace Peserik

Communications Assistant, School of Politics and Global Studies