Remembering Dr. Howard J. Wiarda, 1939-2015

Howard John Wiarda, 1939-2015

Howard J. Wiarda, the Dean Rusk Professor of International Relations in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia and formerly the Leonard J. Horowitz Professor of Iberian and Latin American Studies at U-Mass died on September 12, 2015, just 2 months shy of his 76th birthday.

After an illustrious career at the University of Massachusetts, at Amherst (where he still holds the unbroken record of becoming the youngest Full Professor at age 33 in the Department of Political Science), Professor Wiarda became the Founding Head in 2003 of the newly created Department of International Affairs, one of three Departments of the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia.

Dr. Wiarda was one of the most prominent scholars in the field of comparative politics and foreign policy. His accomplishments are too many to list but they ranged from serving as Lead Consultant (1983-84) to the National Bipartisan (Kissinger) Commission on Central America to being a Thornton D. Hooper Fellow in International Security Affairs (1987-88) at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI).  He joined the Center for Strategic and International Studies in 1992, becoming a Senior Associate.  In 2000 he was appointed Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

He served by appointment of the President of the United States on the Presidential Task Force on Project Economic Justice.  He was  a consultant and adviser to four presidents and a variety of private foundations, business firms, and agencies of the United States government, including the Department of Defense,  the National Defense University, and the Center for Hemispheric Studies.

Professor Wiarda received grants from numerous foundations and programs, including the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Fulbright Program (four awards), the Social Science Research Council, the American Philosophical Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Institutes of Health, Pew Foundation, and the Twentieth Century Fund.   He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.  In 1988 he served on Vice President George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy advisory team.  In 2012 he was inducted into the Order of Columbus by President Leonel Fernández of the Dominican Republic, his former student, for a “lifetime of service to and writing about the Dominican Republic.”

His colleagues as well as his students loved his sense of humor, his wit, and his energy. He was a scholar who believed in field work, in traveling, interviewing, and interacting with the subjects of his studies. In his wide ranging travels he was searching for all and sundry ranging from peasants in Peru, to dictators and guerrilla leaders in Central America, to taxi drivers in Turkey. Back at home, he loved to regale his junior colleagues and his students about his encounters in a smart and funny way and always with great relevance to the most pressing academic questions of the day.

He was an incredibly perceptive observer with a keen sense of the political. Dr. Wiarda’s mind was sharp as a knife and even into his mid-seventies he displayed an exemplary work ethic that would make the Puritans blush. He was an original thinker with a wonderful ability to convey complex issues in a simple way. As a gifted writer and a serious scholar, he turned his observations in the field into very respected academic works that still inform generations of students today.

Dr. Wiarda was the author and co-author of over 100 books, many of them translated into several languages, and editor of over three hundred scholarly articles, book chapters, op eds, and congressional testimony.  Among his many books are
The Dominican Republic: Nation in Transition (Pall Mall Press, 1969); Politics in Iberia: The Political Systems of Spain and Portugal (Harper Collins 1992); Corporatism and Comparative Politics (Routledge 1996); New Directions in Comparative Politics (Westview Press, 2002, Third Edition); The Soul of Latin America (Yale Press, 2003); Divided America on the World Stage: Broken Government and Foreign Policy (Potomac Books, 2009).

Dr. Wiarda died in his 51st year of university teaching. He is survived by his wife Dr. Iêda Siqueira Wiarda, herself a professional political scientist who taught at U-Mass and who also held the positions of Research Specialist at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and taught at the Department of Political Science at the University of Georgia; and three children and five grandchildren and many nephews and nieces. He also leaves many close friends and former students in Amherst, Athens, Cambridge, Washington, and elsewhere who will miss him greatly as will his colleagues at the University of Georgia.

Markus M. L. Crepaz
Professor of Political Science and Department Head
Department of International Affairs
School of Public and International Affairs
The University of Georgia