IGS Celebrates the Tenth Anniversary of the Percy-Synar Awards

A Peter, Carol Christ, Jack Citrin, Patrice Bugelas Brandt, Bill Brandt
March 21, 2017

The Institute of Governmental Studies celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Percy-Synar Awards on Thursday, March 16, 2017.  Carol Christ, who is the Chancellor Designate, congratulated Jack Citrin, the Director of the Institute of Governmental Studies, and thanked Bill and Patrice Brandt for their generous donation that have made these grants a ten-year long tradition at IGS.  

In 2007, the IGS, with the support of the Brandts, started these grants to support exemplary graduate student and undergraduate student research in American politics.  Counting this year’s recipients, IGS has awarded 50 Synar Awards and 65 Percy Awards.  The Mike Synar Graduate Research Fellowship provides graduate students with a $3,000 research grant, and the Charles H. Percy Undergraduate Grant for Public Affairs Research awards undergraduate students with a $500 grant.  

Bill and Patrice Brandt created these fellowships to honor Congressman Mike Synar of Oklahoma, Bill’s mentor when he first became active in politics and public policy; and to honor their home-state Senator Charles Percy of Illinois, for whom Patrice worked as a press secretary.  At the ceremony, Professor Eric Schickler, noted that Charles Percy and Mike Synar were both mavericks, choosing to buck the party line and adopt an independent stance—a move that put Senator Percy on Nixon’s notorious black list. 

These research grants have had a lasting impact on the research and careers of graduate students and undergraduate students. Alex Koenig, a 2012 Synar Grant recipient, remarked that her Synar grant came at the precise moment she was considering quitting graduate school because of financial challenges. The Synar Grant gave her the funds to finish her research and land a job as the Executive Director of the Human Rights Center on campus. Mikhail Guttentag, reflecting on the benefits of his 2010 Percy Grant, noted “The grant helped me write my thesis, but more than that, it helped me to see myself as a scholar whose research was worth funding.” 

This year’s Synar and Percy Grant recipients are: 

Percy Grant Recipients 2017

  • Carly Miller (Political Science)
    Across the Great Divide: How UC Students See American Politics in 2017

  • Erol Morkoc (History of Capitalism)
    The Berlin Airlift: Commodification of Altruism and the Re-Election of President Truman

  • Jeffrey Myers (Political Science and History) 
    Measuring A Gerrymander: Metrics & Implications for Reform

  • Daniel Stewart (History)
    Science and Society: The Vilification of Joseph J. Kinyoun and the San Francisco Plague of 1900

  • Carson Turner (Political Science)
    Does Ranked Choice Voting Live Up to Its Promises? An Evaluation of RCV in the Bay Area

Synar Grant Recipients 2017

  • Sean Freeder (Political Science)
    Malice and Stupidity: Outgroup Motive Attribution and Affective Polarization

  • Rhea Myerscough (Political Science)
    Mechanisms of Inequality: State politics and Small-Dollar Credit Regulation, 1990-2015

  • Alex Roehrkasse (Sociology)
    States of Disunion: The Politics of American Divorce, 1881–1917