October 9, 2019

Passings: Michael Uhlmann, 1939-2019

Professor Michael Uhlmann on CSPAN
The merits of the electoral college: Professor Michael Uhlmann during a 2017 discussion on CSPAN.

The following message was sent out to the university community from President Len Jessup regarding the death this week of Michael Uhlmann, longtime professor of government. Uhlmann was 79.


Dear Members of the CGU Community:

It is with much sadness that I report the passing of Michael Uhlmann, a longtime member of our Division of Politics & Economics and a significant scholar of American government.

For many on our campus, Professor Uhlmann was not only an insightful critic and commentator but also a colleague and dear friend—a mentor to generations of students wanting to learn how government works (or, he might have said, how it doesn’t) from someone whose experience extended to a distinguished career in public service.

A year ago, a tribute in The American Mind hailed Uhlmann as “that rarest of specimens”—a scholar whose practical, first-hand knowledge “at multiple levels of government” richly informed the experiences of his students.

Two of his former students now serve on our board of trustees and fondly remember their time studying with Uhlmann.

Trustee Mark Chapin Johnson shared with me that, “Michael was one of those rare professors that all students and friends were enriched by knowing.”

Trustee Fred Balitzer recalled how Mike had a devoted following among his students. “Mike expected a lot from students, but they gave it willingly. Mike was a man of strong opinions and unafraid to share them. Yet, at the same time, he was friends with faculty across ideological and disciplinary lines. He was collegial in every good sense of that word.”

Uhlmann was ‘a teacher in the purest sense of the word. He believed passionately in building and sharing knowledge to make our society and our world a better place.’

A native of Washington DC, Uhlmann served as Assistant Attorney General in the Ford administration and as a special assistant to President Reagan, among other government positions. His other professional experience included many years in private legal practice as well as a leadership role with a philanthropic foundation.

Long before he joined our faculty in 2002, (he was also an adjunct professor at Claremont McKenna College,) Uhlmann was one of our students. He completed his doctorate in government here in 1978 after receiving a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale and a law degree from the University of Virginia.

The great strength of any department or division is in the diverse backgrounds of its faculty, and our Division of Politics & Economics has benefited greatly from having members such as Uhlmann. As if his scholarly work weren’t enough, he also made time to serve as the director of our successful Tribal Administration Certificate Program.

For all who knew Michael Uhlmann at CGU – students, faculty and staff – he will be remembered as a teacher in the purest sense of the word. He believed passionately in building and sharing knowledge to make our society and our world a better place. He will be sorely missed by all those who had the privilege to work with him and learn from him.

I ask you all to join me in expressing our thanks to Professor Uhlmann for his service to CGU and our deepest condolences to his family and all those who knew him.



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