2014 Arts and Sciences Outstanding
Teacher of the Year Award Winner
Office Location: 211 Meredith Hall
Professor Rachel Paine Caufield earned her Ph.D. at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., specializing in American politics and political science methodology, and her B.A. at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, majoring in Political Science and Mathematics. She joined the Department of Political Science at Drake in 2001, and teaches courses on American politics, with special attention to political institutions (Congress and the Legislative Process, Judicial Politics, and the American Presidency). Prior to joining the Drake faculty, she was a Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. studying the relationship between the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. During her tenure at Drake, she spent 10 years as a Research Fellow with The American Judicature Society (2003-2013), where she conducted research on state judicial selection methods, trends in judicial elections, and the rules and procedures governing state merit selection systems.
Professor Caufield loves the big marble buildings in Washington, D.C., but she has also become an avid devotee of the Iowa caucus. For the past two presidential campaign cycles, she has organized efforts to get students involved in the caucus, has coordinated candidate visits to campus, and led the campus effort to host the ABC News presidential debate held in Drake’s Sheslow Auditorium in 2011. She now serves as the Associate Director for Citizen Engagement at the newly-created Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement, working to bring students and the community together to create a more vigorous and meaningful public dialogue, and strengthening Drake’s position as the place to study and participate in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus.
Frequently spotted at campaign events across Iowa, Professor Caufield (or “RPC”) organized a 2013 January-term travel seminar to Washington, D.C. to attend the presidential inauguration and a travel seminar to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. To find out more about her, read the Times-Delphic profile of Professor Caufield, or watch a video of Professor Caufield’s students during the 2013 January-term travel seminar.
In addition to her research and teaching in American Politics and political institutions, she also teaches Methods in Politics, and the Senior Seminar in Politics. She has developed an FYS titled American Politics on Screen and teaches an Honors seminar on Modern Political Satire.
Professor Caufield has been recognized as the Honors Teacher of the Year (2005), and the Madelyn M. Levitt Teacher of the Year (2010). In 2012, she received the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Engagement Award. In 2014, she was named the Dean and Sue Wright Outstanding Teacher of the Year in the College of Arts and Sciences.