John J Coleman

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John Coleman is dean of the College of Liberal Arts and a professor of political science. Before coming to CLA in August 2014, Dean Coleman had a distinguished career as a scholar and administrator. Most recently, he was chair of the political science department and a Lyons Family Faculty Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he taught for over 20 years. He received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award and other awards for his teaching, research, and academic service and leadership.

At UW–Madison, he served on the Provost’s Educational Innovation Core Team, the Academic Planning Council, the Curriculum Committee, as well as in many other leadership and service capacities. As political science chair, he became known as an effective leader and advocate, not only for political science but also for the liberal arts generally. His collaborative and determined leadership is credited for a turnaround in the fortunes of a department that had lost top faculty during a period of shrinking resources. Despite severe budgetary challenges, he led the department on an upward trajectory—restoring confidence, strengthening relationships with stakeholders, rebuilding the faculty, enhancing the department’s research profile, and reinvigorating undergraduate and graduate education.

A Massachusetts native, Dean Coleman earned a Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A. summa cum laude in government and history from Clark University. Prior to his time at UW–Madison, he held positions at the University of Texas at Austin and the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.

A nationally recognized scholar, he is the author or editor of seven books on American politics and government and over two dozen articles in edited volumes and major journals. His research interests include political parties, elections and voting, legislative-executive relations, divided government, campaign finance, and the intersection of politics and economics. Frequently consulted by both government entities and media outlets for his expertise on American politics, he also has served as an expert witness and consultant on campaign finance, government accountability, and legislative communications.

Dean Coleman and his spouse, Laura Leitch, a health care attorney and lobbyist, enjoy pursuits near and dear to many Minnesotans’ hearts—hiking, canoeing, and golfing.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • B.A., summa cum laude: Government and History, Clark University, Worcester, MA.
  • Ph.D.: Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Political Parties
  • Elections
  • Legislative-Executive Relations
  • Divided Government
  • Campaign Finance
  • American Political Development
  • Citizens United, Independent Expenditures, and Agency Costs: Reexamining the Political Economy of State Antitakeover Statutes.” Co-author Timothy Werner. Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization. 31, 1 (2015): 127-59.
  • Understanding American Politics and Government. 3rd ed. New York: Pearson. Co-authors Kenneth Goldstein and William Howell. 2014; 2011; 2009.
  • “The Standard of Responsible Parties.” In Marjorie R. Hershey, Barry C. Burden, and Christina Wolbrecht, eds., CQ Guide to U.S. Political Parties. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2014.
  • “Above the Fray? The Use of Party System References in Presidential Rhetoric.” Co-author Paul Manna. Presidential Studies Quarterly, September 2007, 399-426.
  • “Congressional Campaign Spending and the Quality of Democracy.” Co-author Paul F. Manna. Journal of Politics 62, 3 (2000): 757-89.
  • Unified Government, Divided Government, and Party Responsiveness,”American Political Science Review 93 (December 1999): 831-45.
  • Party Decline in America: Policy, Politics, and the Fiscal State. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1996.