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James Riddlesperger, political science professor, was named a Piper Professor of 2024 for the state of Texas by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation. He joins an elite group of only 14 TCU professors to receive this prestigious honor.  

“I am, of course, delighted to be recognized — it’s flattering to win an award. I’m reminded of the old adage that ‘Only two kinds of people like flattery: men and women,’” Riddlesperger said. “There are many talented professors at TCU and elsewhere as deserving of this recognition as I, though I do appreciate that my turn has come.” 

The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation founded the Piper Professor awards in 1958 to annually recognize 10 professors across Texas for their outstanding scholarly achievement and dedication to the teaching profession. 

“This is a well-deserved honor for Dr. Riddlesperger, who is known for his impressive expertise and sincere dedication to our students,” Floyd L. Wormley Jr., interim provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, said. “I congratulate him for being singled out among all Texas faculty for his contributions to the intellectual spirit of higher education.”  


Campus Leadership and Involvement 

Riddlesperger has taught at TCU since 1982. His interest is in American politics, with emphasis in the presidency, Congress and Texas politics. He has co-authored or co-edited many books on Texas politics and politicians, as well as published articles and numerous chapters in edited books. 

He has been named the winner of the Chancellor’s Award for Creative Teaching and Research and Honors Professor of the Year at TCU. He has also chaired the Department of Political Science, first from 1989-1992 and again from 2000-2006 

Additionally, he served as chief reader of the College Board’s advance placement U.S. government and politics exam and is past president of the Southwestern Political Science Association.  

Teaching Philosophy and Values 

According to Riddlesperger, the real rewards of the teaching profession are in the relationships. 

“Any success I’ve had as a teacher are best reflected in the accomplishments of my students. They are an impressive group of folks of whom I’m very proud,” said Riddlesperger, who is married to Kristina Riddlesperger. “I’m not even sure I’m the best teacher in my house. Kris taught in nursing for two decades at TCU and received deserved recognition in the classroom too. I fully share this recognition with her.” 

He also values service, and is a frequent consultant to national, state and local news media concerning politics and elections, speaking to many civic and professional groups each year. 

“Dr. Riddlesperger is a long-standing teacher-scholar in political science at TCU,” said Sonja Watson, dean of the AddRan College of Liberal Arts. “For the last 40 years, he has impacted the student experience through superb teaching and scholarship. He has demonstrated an amazing dedication to the profession of teaching, which makes him meritorious for this award. We are fortunate to have Dr. Riddlesperger’s dedication to teaching and students, upholding the mission of the institution.” 

Previous TCU Piper Professors include: 

Alfred DeGroot, 1959 
Lorraine Sherley, 1965 
Willis Gilliland Hewatt, 1969 
Ben Procter, 1973 
Emmet George Smith, 1974 
Michael Max Winesanker, 1976 
Robert Stuart Doran, 1989 
Bob Frye, 1994 
Donald Wilson Jackson, 2003 
Richard Leo Enos, 2009 
Ralph Carter, 2014 
Molly Hand Weinburgh, 2015 
Cecilia Silva, 2016 
Sally Fortenberry, 2023 

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