Mark Kende is the James Madison Chair Professor of Constitutional Law and Director of the Congressionally endowed Drake University Constitutional Law Center. Kende earned his B.A. cum laude with honors in Philosophy from Yale University, and his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School where he was a member of the Law Review.

Prior to entering academia, he clerked for a federal judge and litigated employment, civil rights and constitutional cases at a Chicago law firm along with Barack Obama. He has co-taught constitutional law classes with two current U.S. Supreme Court Justices. Kende previously taught at Notre Dame Law School and the University of Montana School of Law, and served as a Senior Fulbright Scholar in South Africa. He subsequently was a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Paris – Pantheon. He is the author of Constitutional Rights in Two Worlds: South Africa and the United States (Cambridge Univ.) and Comparative Constitutional Law: South African Cases and Materials in a Global Contest.

Scott Raecker serves as Director of The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University (formerly known as Character Counts In Iowa) – a position he has held since the work of the center was founded by former Governor Robert D. Ray as a lasting legacy to the Iowa Sesquicentennial in 1997.

The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center was created by Drake University to serve as a global resource for applied research and programming in the areas of leadership, ethics and civility. The Ray Center is a national partner of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, where Scott has previously served as both Chairman of the Board and CEO, as well as the Institute for Excellence & Ethics. From the preschool environment to the corporate boardroom, The Ray Center is coordinating efforts to create a positive environment of civility, principled decision-making and ethical leadership in our daily lives. Scott’s commitment to positively impact the lives of others was also reflected in his 14 years of public service as a member of the Iowa House of Representatives from 1999 through 2012.

In the legislature, Scott served in numerous leadership roles including chair of the House Appropriations Committee, chair of the Ethics Committee, and chair of the Midwest Council of Government’s Legislative Leadership Institute. Scott is involved in numerous civic volunteer efforts. Scott serves as a board member of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Drake University School of Education National Advisory Board, Board Member Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folk Life and Cultural Studies Advisory Board, Drake Bulldog Club Board, Shining City Foundation, and board member of the Rotary Club of Des Moines.

Scott is a member of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and Urbandale Chambers of Commerce. Scott is a graduate of Grinnell College where he received his B.A. in Political Science and Religious Studies. Scott has recently been featured as a keynote speaker on ethics and civility to state legislatures across the United States. Scott and his wife, Martha, live in Urbandale and have two adult children, Emily and Max.

Zachary Blevins is a junior at Drake University, studying Politics and Strategic Political Communications. He serves as the Vice President of Student Life on Student Senate, where many of his projects have focused on youth political engagement.

For the past semester, he served as a contributor to the Iowa Caucus Project on the Outreach Team. He is the lead student on campus for No Labels and hopes to get an organization started in the near future.

At Drake, he has also been a member of Drake Democrats, served as the Vice President of Recruitment for Interfraternity Council, and held multiple positions within his fraternity, Sigma Chi. In his remaining time at Drake, he hopes to engage more students in the political process in order to break the stereotype of apathetic millennial voters.


Rachel Paine Caufield teaches in the Department of Political Science and is the Associate Director of the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science at The George Washington University and her B.A. in Mathematics and Political Science from Hood College in Frederick, MD.

Her teaching and research focus on American political institutions, including legislative politics, judicial politics, the American presidency, presidential nominating processes, and inter-branch relationships. For the past three election cycles, she has been the Director of the Iowa Caucus Project at Drake, organizing media events, candidate visits and campus participation in the caucus process. In this capacity, she was the lead coordinator of the ABC Republican presidential candidate debate in 2011 and the CBS Democratic presidential candidate debate in 2015.

She spent a decade (2003-2013) as a Research Fellow for the Hunter Center for Judicial Selection at the American Judicature Society. Prior to her arrival at Drake, she was a visiting Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.


University News
October 20, 2016
The Comparison Project will present the third event in its 2016–2017 series on death and dying. A community interfaith dialogue on Oct. 27 will feature representatives of three different refugee religions in Des Moines.