A Decade of Distinction — Faculty Profile Peter Woolley


FDU Magazine Online - Summer/Fall 2008
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eter Woolley has had a remarkable career at FDU. Hired in 1987 to teach comparative politics and international relations — areas in which he was well versed as a researcher at the Université de Bordeaux and later as a research scholar at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. — he ascended the ranks to become department chair and then was called upon to lead the University’s survey research group, PublicMind™.

Established in 2001, PublicMind has grown into a highly visible and well-respected source of information that strengthens the University’s profile and reputation. Among the topics surveyed are presidential, gubernatorial and Senate races; homeland security, terrorism, the war in Iraq and disaster preparedness; national energy policies and environmental attitudes; and popular cultural trends. PublicMind also provides research support to faculty, and faculty provide expert analysis and commentary to the press.

As executive director of PublicMind, Woolley has become a frequent guest analyst for networks and newspapers. The former Fulbright-Hays Scholar, who has done extensive research in Japan, brings a global perspective to his analyses. “Comparative politics is not only about political systems in different nations,” he says. “New Jersey is a political case study, and bringing a comparative perspective to New Jersey gives me a much broader base from which to draw in my commentary — whether it be on New Jersey politics, American politics or international issues.”

Woolley has been quoted in major news media including CNN, the Associated Press, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. PublicMind surveys have been covered internationally in outlets including Reuters, United Press International and Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald.

Peter Woolley, professor of comparative politics and director, PublicMind, comments on New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's budget proposal.But success is not measured by media coverage alone. Credibility is key and is built only over time. “Polling is often described as taking a snapshot,” Woolley says. But, he adds — like historical research — no matter how good the snapshot, a fuller picture can only be developed with time. “PublicMind’s credibility has been built with its continued observation of trends.”

“We have become a trusted and well-respected research vehicle,” Woolley explains. “PublicMind’s data are used by researchers at noted institutions and cited in scholarly publications. We have partnered with the respected Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. We present original findings on survey methodology to the American Association of Public Opinion Research.”

Woolley has continued to publish his own research, authoring two books — Geography and Japan’s Strategic Choices: From Seclusion to Internationalization and Japan’s Navy: Politics and Paradox, 1971–2001 — and serves on the editorial board of The Journal of Conflict Studies, at Canada’s University of New Brunswick, the first academic journal to focus exclusively on irregular warfare and terrorism.

The 1997 recipient of the Edward S. Miller Award for historical writing, Woolley has authored election analyses for The Polling Report, opinion pieces in newspapers spanning from Rhode Island to California and a chapter in Larry Sabato’s book The Sixth Year Itch: The Rise and Fall of the Bush Presidency. He is also co-editor of the text American Politics: Core Argument and Current Controversy.

In the meantime, PublicMind continues to grow and recently expanded to include regular updates on political races in Delaware and, with Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Silberman College of Business, quarterly checks on consumer behavior. As the economic uncertainties mount, these results are as closely watched as releases on New Jersey politics. In fact, some months now bring more than 40,000 page views to the PublicMind Web site. And, spurred by the 2006 New Jersey Senate race featuring Latino candidate Bob Menendez, PublicMind now translates its releases into Spanish, garnering coverage in such publications as El Diario.

“Our surveys represent a great way to put our excellent faculty in front of the public eye,” Woolley concludes. “It gives them the opportunity to talk about what they really know.”

As the public grows more informed and Fairleigh Dickinson University’s reputation shines, it all adds up to high approval ratings for Peter Woolley and the PublicMind. end of story

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