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. Future fellowship application deadlines will be announced on this page.
2019 Fellowship Awards
The Arlen Specter Center awarded two $5,000 fellowships for 2019-20. 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 present their work at the Specter Center’s Roxboro House Roundtables or the Knowledge Exchange talks 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.
Charlotte Rosen, PhD Candidate in History at Northwestern University
Research Title: “Last Night Was a Riot, Tonight Was a War”: Crime Politics and Carceral Crisis in Late Postwar Pennsylvania, 1966-1995
Arlen Specter’s anxieties about the government’s insufficient prison capacity raises questions about the common historical narrative regarding the rise of mass incarceration. This project will focus on the 1970s and 1980s mismatch between Pennsylvania state and local government’s capacity to imprison and its promise to punish. Using Pennsylvania as a case study, Ms. Rosen will study Pennsylvania’s history of late twentieth century prison incapacity, and its culmination in a major prison overcrowding crisis, which led to prisoner resistance, escape, litigation, and more. She seeks to better understand the historical dynamics of Pennsylvania’s carceral crisis, the importance of state and local criminal justice policymaking, and the impact of Pennsylvania’s prison overcrowding crisis on Specter’s legislative career and legacy.
Timothy N. Welbeck, Esq.
Adjunct Faculty Member, Thomas Jefferson University (East Falls) and Temple University
Mr. Welbeck will research the late Senator’s work as a basis for analyzing and contextualizing the current criminal justice reform movement that centers on eradicating racial disparities in incarceration. Hindsight has provided key insights into how the 1994 federal Crime Bill (supported by the late Senator Specter) achieved some of its aims, while having significant unintended consequences. Mr. Welbeck will employ a multidisciplinary approach to explore and clarify Senator Specter's legacy as it relates to criminal justice reform and his participation in the 1994 Crime Bill.
2018 Fellowship Awards
Hot Buttons & Health: Arlen Specter & the Politics of Congressional Appropriations
Sean Q. Kelly, PhD
Professor, Political Science,
California State University, Channel Islands
Dr. Kelly’s research explores “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 examines 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 Candidates in Political Science
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 & the Philadelphia Police
PhD Candidate in History
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 & Campus Crime Statistics Act or Clery Act
Travis Douglas, MEd
Doctor of Management in Strategic Leadership Candidate
Thomas Jefferson University
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.”