A headline in the Fall 2003 edition of the University of Richmond Alumni Magazine reads “Richmond reels in star professors.” The picture next to it shows Dr. Gary L. McDowell leaning up against the against the columns of the Jepson Hall Dean’s Conference Room. Fifteen years later, McDowell, the Tyler Haynes Interdisciplinary Chair in Leadership Studies, Political Science & Law, is retiring from the Jepson School of Leadership Studies.

“At the Jepson School, we emphasize that our faculty are leadership scholars and also practitioners of leadership. It’s hard to think of someone who embodies this more than Gary McDowell,” says Jepson Dean Sandra J. Peart.

McDowell’s scholarship focuses on the Constitution, the judiciary, politics, statesmanship, and civil liberties, and was cited by Supreme Court Justice Thomas in Zivotofsky v. Kerry. At the Jepson School, he's taught courses such as Leadership and the Humanities, Statesmanship, and Folk Music and Protest Thought.

McDowell's background in public service is uncommon among most academics. Before joining Jepson, McDowell had served as chief speech writer for former Attorney General Edwin Meese III. He also served as director of the Institute of United States Studies and taught American Studies at the University of London, and served as a member of the United States-United Kingdom Educational Commission, also known as The Fulbright Commission. His work in London brought him into close proximity with Lady Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister.

“To understand Margaret Thatcher fully, one must see that for her the political life she had chosen was a moral life,” wrote McDowell in a column published in the Richmond-Times Dispatch shortly after Thatcher’s death.

Peart notes that McDowell has often hosted his professional connections at the Jepson School. Thatcher met with students, faculty, and staff during a visit to the University of Richmond, and Meese served as the 2014–15 Jepson School Leader-in-Residence.

“Our students and faculty, as well as members of the larger Richmond community, have benefited from meeting many of today’s most prominent leaders and scholars and engaging them in rich discussion,” says Peart.  

As co-director of the John Marshall International Center for the Study of Statesmanship, McDowell helped organize numerous symposia, conferences, and public lectures. The Center is funded through a grant from the Thomas W. Smith Foundation and explores the study and practice of statesmanship through scholarly and practical attention to constitutionalism, political economy, politics, and ethical reasoning. The popular, annual Marshall Center Lecture Series has boasted such well-known figures as Václav Klaus, the second president of the Czech Republic; Harvey Mansfield, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution; and historian Gordon S. Wood.

“It was Gary’s vision and fundraising skills that made the Marshall Center possible. Gary has probably done more than anyone on campus to bring together people from diverse political, intellectual, and disciplinary perspectives,” says Terry L. Price, who holds the Coston Family Chair in Leadership and Ethics and who will resume the role of co-director of the Center in fall 2018.

At an event on May 9, the Jepson School honored McDowell’s career and legacy with the Jepson School Award for Leadership & Service. McDowell will give the keynote remarks at the 2018 Jepson Finale ceremony.

Dean, E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Professor in Leadership Studies
Ethics and Economics
Leadership Ethics
History of Economic Thought
History of Political Economy
Experimental Economics
Professor Emeritus
American Political Thought
Constitutional History
Cultural Leadership
The Supreme Court
Professor, Coston Family Chair in Leadership and Ethics
Leadership Ethics
Moral Psychology
Social, Political, and Legal Theory