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Retirement with legacy: Joel Migdal, UW’s international studies visionary leader

October 30, 2019

Joel Migdal speaking on Joel S. Migdal Day
Joel S. Migdal making remarks at an evening event in honor of his retirement from the UW. Oct. 3, 2019

On Oct. 3, several hundred alumni, faculty and staff at the Jackson School and wider University of Washington community celebrated the legacy of Joel S. Migdal, founder of UW’s international studies program, in honor of his retirement from 39 years of teaching at the UW.

The celebration included a daylong workshop featuring current and former students who came from universities around the country and from other countries where they are teaching, including in Canada, China, England, Israel and Spain. A number of UW faculty also participated in the panels, which focused on Comparative Politics: States and Societies; Law and Societies; Middle East Today; and, Higher Education Today.

The workshop was followed by a public lecture by Professor Migdal on “State and Society: Then and Now.”

Watch the video of Joel Migdal’s last lecture

Migdal is the founding chair of the UW‘s International Studies Program. In 1993, he received the UW’s Distinguished Teaching Award; in 1994, the Washington State Governor’s Writers Award; in 2006, the Marsha L. Landolt Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award; and, in 2008, the Provost Distinguished Lectureship. He was formerly associate professor of Government at Harvard University and senior lecturer at Tel-Aviv University. an adjunct professor with the political science department.

A Mayoral Proclamation of Joel S. Migdal Day
The day ended with a dinner and program that highlighted Professor Migdal’s contributions to academia as well as his mentorship of students. During the celebration, Professor Migdal received a Mayor’s Proclamation, signed by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, naming Oct. 3 as Joel Migdal Day in honor of his achievements as a visionary leader in higher education.

Speakers included the Director of the Jackson School, Reşat Kasaba; Dean of the UW College of Arts & Sciences, Robert Stacey; Professor Eva Bellin, Department of Politics, Brandeis University;  John T.S. Keeler, Dean of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at University of Pittsburgh; and Michael McCann, Professor of Political Science at the UW.

“I know it means a lot to him [Joel Migdal] that we are here and showing our appreciation of all that he has done,” said Kasaba in his welcoming remarks to over 125 UW community and alumni gathered in the Cascade Room at the UW Club. “But I think it  is also important and meaningful for us to say ‘thank you, Joel’.”

Joel Migdal becomes a professor emeritus following his tenure as the UW as Robert F. Philip Professor of International Studies at the Jackson School. A recipient of numerous awards, Migdal holds the distinction at the UW as one of the few faculty ever to have received both the UW Distinguished Teaching Award and the Marsha L. Landolt Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award. We are also grateful to him for his work in building the International Studies program which offers one of the most popular majors in the College of Arts and Sciences.

View the Joel Migdal Day Oct. 3 photo gallery: