Professor M. Kent Jennings was born on a farm and raised in Chowchilla California, in the middle of the Central Valley. He attended a three-room country school and the local high school. Professor Jennings would eventually go on to earn a bachelors degree from the University of Redlands and then a PhD in political science from University of North Carolina.
Before coming to Michigan, Professor Jennings was a research assistant and research associate at the Brookings Institute. He was also a visiting assistant professor of political science at the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands and taught and conducted research at various U.S. institutions, such as the University of California at Los Angeles and Arizona State University, where he was the Barry Goldwater Professor of American Institutions. Professor Jennings’ research has been supported by grants from organizations such as the National Science Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, Ford Foundation, National Institutes of Mental Health, and the Army Research Institute. He was also a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Professor Jennings is also a member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Professor Jennings research interests focus on political socialization, political elites, and gender and politics. At Michigan, he taught courses in public opinion and participation, political socialization, community political behavior, research design and data collection. Of his tenure at the department, Professor Jennings says, “all the years were golden, some just glistened a bit more than did others. The early years were especially exciting (granted I was young and impressionable) because we were establishing a really strong program in political behavior and were also recruiting lots of outstanding young scholars in a number of fields. It was a period of extraordinary growth and development. The later years stand out in my mind as a time when we instituted a number of important changes in the graduate program and in our promotion procedures. From afar it looks as though the department is more diversified than it was in my day.”
Although Professor Jennings is no longer at the University of Michigan, he adds that “the department remains a terrific place for both undergraduate and graduate training.” Professor Jennings remains a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.