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SXU Alum Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences


Saint Xavier University (SXU) alum Christopher Wlezien '84, Ph.D., has been elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an honorary society that recognizes and celebrates the excellence of its members and an independent research center convening leaders from across disciplines, professions, and perspectives to address significant challenges. 

Wlezien was nominated for his election because of the impact he's made on the broader world, and it was a pleasant surprise for him.  

"The Academy is kind of like the hall of fame in our business. Professional recognition is really special, and it's rare for someone so young to get this kind of thing. I am honored to be part of it, especially since they select people who inform public policy and advance the public good. I do a lot of local, professional, media, and community outreach, and it's my natural instinct to figure out how the world really works and help people see things more clearly. My work focuses on the relation between politics and the public, policies and election," said Wlezien. 

Wlezien, who also held a minor in mathematics, was a first-generation student who began his undergraduate studies in Indiana before he transferred to Saint Xavier. One of his professors was so impressed with Wlezien's writing that he took him out for coffee and encouraged him to pursue studies in political science.  

"There were a lot of things happening in the world in the late 70s and early 80s, which ignited an interest in political science. I was really a math person, but my professor encouraged me to combine them, which I've done throughout my career in my research," said Wlezien.  

After graduating from Saint Xavier, Wlezien attended the University of Iowa in pursuit of his doctorate and later interviewed for a job at Stanford before taking a position at the University of Houston. In 2011, he was hired by Oxford University. He took another position with Temple University before settling in at the University of Texas at Austin for an endowed professorship, and he remains there today as a professor of government.  

"I am most interested in seeing my students become successful, however they define that. They all have different values, targets, and pathways, and I try to help them think about how they model the world by using data and evidence. My students really like me, too – I wrote 62 letters of recommendation last year, which was pretty satisfying. I marvel at the range of things my students achieve," said Wlezien.  

He's also held many visiting positions, and his areas of research include public opinion, public policy, political institutions, elections, mass media, and research methods. His projects have been supported by grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation, and he has served on editorial boards for multiple journals. Wlezien has produced substantive and methodological research on a variety of political topics and has an extensive curriculum vitae. 

Wlezien is grateful for the start he got at Saint Xavier, particularly his interactions with the faculty, which he found critical to his development.  

"At Saint Xavier, I was really encouraged to put myself forward as a scholar. Saint Xavier helped me develop myself in writing and critical thinking. I had direct access to faculty and feedback with their open-door policies, and that's something I don't think I would have found at most other places. I really appreciate what Saint Xavier did for me," said Wlezien.