Dr. Daniel Kempton | Franciscan University of Steubenville
  • Kempton

    Dr. Daniel Kempton

    Vice President for Academic Affairs; Professor of Political Science

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    Brief Bio

    Dr. Daniel Kempton

    Vice President for Academic Affairs, Professor of Political Science

    The plan was law school…at least at first. That’s why, as a freshman at Notre Dame, Dan Kempton decided he would major in political science. The plan, however, quickly changed.

    “By my junior year, I was so in love with political science, I didn’t even bother applying to law school,” Kempton says.

    Where he did apply was the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. There, he completed both his master’s and PhD in political science. He then went on to teach political science at Northern Illinois University for two years, before winning a Fulbright scholarship in 1989 to teach at Rhodes University in South Africa.

    “With the advances made by the culture of death, Catholic higher education is more vital than ever.” 

    When his Fulbright year was over, he returned to Northern Illinois, where he taught for the next 21 years. He also published extensively, writing two books as well as dozens of reviews, essays, journal articles, and more. In 2008, his work on the politics of post-communist Russia helped him earn a second Fulbright Scholarship, this time to Tver State University in Russia. Upon his return, he took on the directorship of Northern Illinois’ Honors Program.

    Then, in 2010, a new opportunity presented itself. Kempton learned that Franciscan University was searching for a new vice president for Academic Affairs. Over the years, Kempton had heard a great deal about the school, and the chance to both teach and work at a place where the Catholic faith could be integrated into the classroom was one he didn’t want to pass up.

    “I teach topics that have important ethical dimensions—terrorism, democracy, diplomacy. It’s hard to teach those subjects without a moral basis,” he explains.

    Franciscan likewise did not want to pass up the chance to bring Kempton into its fold, and in July 2011, welcomed him as both the new VPAA and professor of political science.

    “With the advances made by the culture of death, Catholic higher education is more vital than ever,” says Kempton, reflecting on his new role. “College is the place where most young people lose their faith, in large part because it’s actively challenged by faculty whose worldview is primarily secular. At Franciscan, however, we can do something different, giving students the tools they need to pray, work, and live as Catholics in the world. I’m excited to be a part of that.”


    • Ph.D., Department of Political Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1988)
    • A.M., Department of Political Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1984)
    • B.A., in Government and Russian, University of Notre Dame (1982)

    Professional Experience

    • Director, University Honors Programs, Northern Illinois University
    • Chair, Department of Political Science, NIU
    • Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Political Science, NIU
    • Assistant Chair, Department of Political Science, NIU
    • Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Political Science, NIU

    Major Fellowships

    • Academic Fellow, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Israel (two weeks) (2009)
    • Fulbright Fellowship to Tver State University, Russia (2008)
    • Pew Fellowship in International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (1993)
    • Fulbright Fellowship to Rhodes University, South Africa (1992)
    • Rhodes University Research Fellowship at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (Grahamstown, South Africa) (1991)

    Awards and Honors

    • Nominee, Students’ Choice Award, Student Association, Northern Illinois University (2010)
    • NIU Study Abroad, Oriel College, Oxford, United Kingdom (2010, 2006, 2003)
    • Outstanding International Educator, NIU (2008)
    • Departmental Nominee, Presidential Teaching Professorship (2008)
    • Recipient, Department of Political Science Teaching Award (2007)
    • Departmental and College Nominee for the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award (2007)
    • City of Sycamore, Plan Commission (1997-2000)
    • NIU Graduate School Grant for Faculty Research and Artistry (1994, 1991, 1989, 1988)

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