Tort liability lecture scheduled for Sept. 30 at WVU

By The West Virginia Record | Sep 24, 2009


MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia University's Department of Political Science presents the John R. Williams Memorial Lecture, titled "Making Rights Real: How Tort Liability Reformed Local Government," given by Charles R. Epp, professor and director of the Department of Public Administration's doctoral program at the University of Kansas.

Epp will come to campus on Sept. 30 at 4 p.m. in the Mountainlair Gluck Theater.

His talk stems from research on law, courts, and legal control of bureaucracy, and his recently published book, "Making Rights Real: Activists, Bureaucrats, and the Creation of the Legalistic State," which examines three different policy areas in the United States and the United Kingdom –- workplace sexual harassment, playground safety, and police brutality.

Epp is author of "The Rights Revolution: Lawyers, Activists, and Supreme Courts in Comparative Perspective," a study of the expansion of the litigation of rights claims in Canada, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which received the American Political Science Association's C. Herman Pritchett Award for the best book on law and politics in 1998.

His current study, titled "Pulled Over: How Race Matters in Traffic Law Enforcement," investigates racial disparities in police stops.

Epp earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Bethel College in Kansas, and a master's and doctoral degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The John R. Williams Lecture was created in honor of Williams' devotion to WVU, the study of political science, and his students. He was a recognized specialist in British Commonwealth studies and a researcher in Canadian and Australian politics. In 1949, he became a professor in WVU's Department of Political Science where he taught for nearly four decades. During that time, he also became department chair in 1961 and director of the University Honors Program in 1973.

Williams was known for challenging generations of students to think critically about political philosophy, the politics of the British Commonwealth of nations, and Western European politics, and became one of WVU's most popular teachers. For his service to the University, he received the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award, the Pi Sigma Alpha Outstanding Teacher Award, and the WVU Outstanding Teacher Award.

He was author of "The Conservative Party of Canada," and "John Latham and the Conservative Recovery from Defeat," as well as other works published in professional journals. He was also appointed as a Fellow at the Duke University Commonwealth Studies Center, a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University, and an Academic Visitor at the London School of Economics.

Williams graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree from Lawrence College in 1944. He earned a master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University in 1947, and a doctoral degree from Duke University in 1951. He also studied government at the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics.

For more information, contact Barnette Professor and Chair in the Department of Political Science Joe Hagan at 304-293-3811 or

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