Across the campus of the University of Dallas, the increasingly warm weather and accelerated coursework signal the arrival of summer and the end of the spring semester.
For Dr. Richard Dougherty, department chair and director of the politics graduate program, a new semester is just beginning.
On April 25, Dougherty will begin a visiting professorship at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in Germany.
Located in Bavaria, Eichstätt is the only Catholic university in the German-speaking world, making it an excellent fit for a UD professor.
Dougherty first discussed the prospect of visiting the university two years ago at a conference outside of Munich.
An old acquaintance, Dr. Klaus Stüwe, professor of comparative politics at Eichstätt, suggested the possibility.
It was only last spring, however, that Eichstätt received funding from the State of Bavaria to bring in a visiting professor.
Still, Dougherty had to put off his trip for another year due to conflicting semester schedules.
Unlike in the U.S. Germany begins their “summer semester” in April and their “winter semester” in October.
This meant that Dougherty would need time to plan out his visiting semester in a way that would not completely disrupt his UD schedule.
He decided to forego a “winter semester,” which would require him to miss both the fall and spring semesters at UD.
Teaching during the “summer semester” is more convenient, especially since Dougherty’s courses will not begin until the end of April.
“It’s not uncommon for their courses to begin late or end early [in the semester],” Dougherty said.
Dougherty will finish his visiting professorship on July 16 and return to UD for the fall semester.
He will teach all of his courses in English rather than German.
“That’s part of [the university’s] goal … to offer more English language courses,” Dougherty said.
He will teach several courses on American institutions, as well as an upper-level course on the American presidency.
Currently, Dougherty does not know how many students he will teach or exactly what experiences his students will have already had with American politics.
“My guess is it’ll be a variation amongst the students, of their backgrounds,” Dougherty said.
Several of Dougherty’s classes will be focused on student research and presentations, which came as a surprise to Dougherty.
“I thought I’d be going over there and lecturing for fifteen weeks,” Dougherty said. “I’m setting the stage for the kinds of things they might be engaged in … and giving them direction on how to do that.”
While Dougherty has visited Germany before, he has never been to Eichstätt.
This is also his first experience as a visiting professor.
“It’s a real honor,” Dougherty said.
Dougherty will also be returning to UD for graduation in May, when his son Joe Dougherty will graduate.
Following graduation, Dougherty will be bringing his wife and younger children back to Germany for the remainder of his visit.
“My hope is that other people might be able to take advantage of some similar arrangement,»” Dougherty said. “I think it’d be really fruitful … to promote some kind of longer-term relationship [with Eichstätt].”
This hope has already begun to come to fruition through the efforts of the German professors at UD.
Dr. Jacob-Ivan Eidt, chair of the modern languages department and director of the German program, has already arranged for several students to study at Eichstätt in the coming semester.
In time, through this exchange and other possible endeavors, Eichstätt and UD might develop a long-term relationship.
For now, Dougherty is looking forward to engaging with his new students through cultural exchange.
“I will be especially interested in finding out what Germans think about America,” Dougherty said.