Q&A with Dr. David Cohen, interim director of the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics


Name: Dr. David B. Cohen, professor of political science 

Title:  Interim director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics

Department: Political Science, in the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. David Cohen

Dr. David Cohen

What impact do you hope to have in your new role as interim director of the Bliss Institute? 

My top priority is to revamp and revitalize the Master in Applied Politics program and launch it in fall 2021 with the goal being to compete with the top applied politics schools in the nation. As always, we will continue to be a source for political commentary and analysis, especially during election time. We also hope to continue to have a full slate of programming for students and the outside community. Though the COVID-19 situation makes this challenging, we will persevere and utilize whatever technology we need to continue with programs.

What brought you to The University of Akron?

A job! UA was my first job offer after earning my Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of South Carolina.

Areas of research — what problem do you most hope to solve?

My area of research is the American presidency — particularly the White House Office of the Chief of Staff. I am part of an advisory group, the White House Transition Project, which produces briefing papers and research reports for personnel transitioning into a White House job. I have been told by White House staffers that I have interviewed that the work we produce does impact the way a White House is organized and how staff goes about doing its job, so that is very fulfilling. Thus, detailing best practices for White House staff and improving White House staff performance is a goal of mine.  

What books are on your nightstand?

Candice Millard’s “Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President.” It’s about the assassination of Ohio’s own President James Garfield and it has been on my nightstand way too long.

Outside the classroom, what do you enjoy doing for fun? 

Our family loves musicals. Anytime we can get to Broadway or Playhouse Square is great. We are also huge NASCAR fans. My son and I have attended many races the last several years; my daughter, who just turned 13, will be joining us soon! 

Looking back on your own time in college, what advice do you have for UA students?

Too many college students pick a major because they are thinking practically or satisfying a parent. Follow your passions. There are few things more rewarding than choosing a career you love and looking forward going to work every day.