Research Fellowship

The Arlen Specter Center offers competitive research fellowships to aid scholars in the pursuit of study and research in an area supported by the Arlen Specter Collection. Applications for 2019 will open in Fall 2018.


2018 Fellowship Awards

The Arlen Specter Center for Public Service has awarded four $5,000 fellowships for 2018. These fellowships will highlight and raise awareness of the significant impact the late senator’s work had on American politics, criminal justice, healthcare policy and culture, thereby advancing the profile of the Center and University.

In addition to publishing their research, the fellows will present their work at the Specter Center’s Roxboro House Roundtables and Knowledge Exchanges on the East Falls campus to bolster intellectual discourse and further advance the senator’s legacy.

Funding for the fellowships is provided by Shanin Specter, prominent Philadelphia trial attorney and son of Arlen Specter, and his wife, Tracey Specter.


The 2018 Receipents are:

Hot Buttons and Health: Arlen Specter and the Politics of Congressional Appropriations









Sean Q. Kelly, Ph.D., Professor, Political Science, California State University, Channel Islands

Kelly’s research will explore “how Senator Arlen Specter employed the appropriations process to promote his pro‐ choice policy position and increase funding for cutting‐edge health sciences research, and how he used appropriations to promote the interests of Pennsylvania.”

Professor Kelly’s work will examine several topics, including how a hot button social policy issue like the Hyde Amendment (bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion) changed the political environment of appropriations politics; how the late Senator used the appropriations process to support projects involving medical breakthroughs; how increasing partisanship surrounds the appropriations process, with Specter often playing a critical role; and the employment of earmarks to build winning coalitions, another Specter practice.


A Matter of Great Importance: Senator Preparation for Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings













Elizabeth Lane and Jessica Schoenherr, PhD students in political science at Michigan State University

“We are interested in this understudied part of the confirmation process, seeking to understand how senator preparation for Supreme Court confirmation hearings influences their behavior during the hearings and after. Or, put more generally, we ask, how do members of the Senate Judiciary Committee maximize constituent representation and electoral outcomes?“

As Specter sat on the Judiciary Committee for many years and also chaired it, he was involved in all of the Supreme Court nominations of the modern era. Lane and Schoenherr will make extensive use of the Specter papers to study the Senatorial nomination preparation process.


Racial Violence/Race Relations and the Philadelphia Police

Menika Dirkson, PhD student in history at Temple University

To address contemporary issues involving racial tensions between the police and the black community, Ms. Dirskon’s project involves studying how Philadelphia city officials and community organizations sought to forge amiable relationships between the police and the black community during the 1970s. She will make use of the papers associated with Arlen Specter’s tenure as Philadelphia’s District Attorney, as well as other archival materials.

As Ms. Dirksen notes in her application: “As DA and Senator of Pennsylvania, Specter was interested in finding solutions to juvenile crime and ensuring proper procedural action in criminal cases.” He also advocated for community organizations like the Police Athletic League and Safe Streets, Inc., “which that enabled community residents, gang members, and police officers to meet in public spaces to discuss the issues among them.”





Efficacy of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act or Clery Act

Travis Douglas, D.Mgt. student in strategic leadership at Jefferson 

Douglas serves as Assistant Vice President for Residential Learning and Inclusion Programs at Rowan University, and in that capacity, he serves on the campus committee addressing compliance with the Clery Act, legislation spurred by a the 1986 campus rape and murder of Jeanne Clery, and originally sponsored and advocated strongly by the late Senator.

Douglas will explore the effectiveness of the Emergency Notifications and Timely Warnings provision of the law, which can have an immediate impact on campus safety when incidents such as active shootings, sexual assaults, or fires and chemical spills occur. Douglas says in his application: “I believe that understanding the effectiveness of this provision could lead to significant improvements in the ways that campuses alert students and others to safety issues on campuses.”