The U.S. Supreme Court has undergone a major transformation over the course of its 224-year history. Between 1789 and 1962, 47 percent of appointees to the Court had held major political posts in their pre-Court careers. Over the past fifty years, presidents have predominantly filled Court vacancies with federal judges having clearly confirmed conservative track records. This has altered the national perception of the court and led to its diminished public reputation.
Professor Nelson has been a UVM Faculty member since 1968. He is the editor, author, and co-author of ten books, most recently the seven-volume Committees in the U.S. Congress, 1789-2010; The Austin-Boston Connection: Five Decades of House Democratic Leadership 1937-1989 (2009); and Pathways to the Supreme Court: From the Arena to the Monastery (forthcoming). He is the author of many articles in both scholarly journals and the popular press, and he is a widely quoted political commentator. He was a 2009 recipient of the Kroepsch-Maurice Teaching Excellence Award.
The Dean’s Lecture Series was established in 1991 as a way to recognize and honor colleagues in the College of Arts and Sciences who have consistently demonstrated the ability to translate their professional knowledge and skill into exciting classroom experiences for their students — faculty who meet the challenge of being both excellent teachers and highly respected professionals in their own discipline. The Award is a celebration of the unusually high quality of our faculty and has become an important and treasured event each semester.