The United States Presidency

POL 414

POL 414, TuTh, 10:50 - 12:05, ALC #19
Dr. Jim L. Riley  Regis University

Professor of Politics
Fall, 2009

Office Hours
 Monday & Wednesday:   10:30 - 2:00
Tuesday &Thursday:  3:00 -4:00
Friday:  By Appointment  
Office: Carroll Hall 215
 Office Phone: (303) 458-4974
web page --

TEXTS:   The Politics of the Presidency (7th ed.) (Authors: Joseph Pika & John Maltese)                 

The first sentence in the Regis Mission Statement reads:  "Regis University educates men and women of all ages to take leadership roles and to make a positive impact in a changing society."  Understanding the nature of politics in its broadest sense is crucial to this goal.  This course seeks to expand the political knowledge of students such that each of them is better able to become capable and responsible leaders in our society that is so deeply penetrated by things political.

1.USE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF SYLLABUS: This syllabus is a most important guide for your understanding what this course is designed to accomplish and how it is organized to achieve its stated goals. Moreover, specific ground rules, obligations and responsibilities are described below. By careful reading, you should obtain a clear idea of what we will be doing in this class throughout the semester. The dates and deadlines contained below will be adhered to, barring unforeseen exigencies requiring modification. A complete semester's assignments is included at the end of this syllabus. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with each day's assignment in accordance with those specifications.

2. COURSE PURPOSE: The focus of this course shall be upon the American presidency, its occupants, institutions, powers, relationships to other political actors, and its relevance to the American political experience.  At semester's end it is to be expected that class participants will have enhanced knowledge of these and other related subjects covered in class and in readings.  In addition, it is anticipated that students will also be imbued with a desire to know more about the subject of the American presidency.

3. COURSE OBJECTIVES: The specific objective of the course is to achieve knowledge levels within students such that they will be able to perform "satisfactorily" or better in the following areas: (1) examinations -- students will be expected to respond accurately and completely to questions covering course material; (2) out-of-class project -- students will be expected to complete a research project utilizing concepts presented in class; and (3) in-class-discussions -- students will be expected to participate frequently and positively in class. The quality of work will be judged in accordance with the degree to which the following criteria are present in written work: accuracy of information, critical thought, clarity of message, organizational coherency, use of the intellectual tools presented in the course, technical precision and correctness (especially in our-of-class papers), sharpness of focus, presence of indicators of thoughtful consideration of issues examined, depth of analysis, and creativity.

4. CLASS FORMAT: The size of this class is ideal for making use of the lecture/discussion and seminar approach. Each member of the class will be expected to provide frequent in-class verbal contributions. The procedure will normally be one in which the Professor initiates the discussion and/or presentations by directing attention to matters under scrutiny. This may involve something of a brief "lecture" or visual presentation, but invariably with the expectation of student questions, observations, comments and criticisms. On other occasions, students may be asked to comment on topics covered in their reading and to explain phenomenon studied at some earlier point in the course. As will be seen below, the degree to which students provide positive in-class contributions will play a significant role in grade determination.

5. NOTE TAKING: In order to achieve a desirable grade in this class (presumably reflecting one's level of achievement), it is necessary to take "good" notes of three types: class notes, text notes, and research notes. Class notes should summarize material presented in class so that you may later recall what was put before you there. Ideally and desirably, these should be in the form of full and complete sentences, organized in outline form (major and minor headings being present). Text notes should condense and summarize the material given to you by the author. Research notes serve the purpose of recording that which you have gathered through your out-of-class digging.

Generally, the purpose of notes is to store, organize, and make information more readily available so that it can eventually become knowledge. It is utilitarian in nature, that is to say, it is designed to serve some larger purpose. It you find after a few meetings that your notes are not very accurate or helpful in organizing and understanding the material, meet with me at your first opportunity. One final point, you should review notes taken at the previous meeting before going to class on any given day. This five or ten minute review will prove most valuable in various ways



8. EXAMINATIONS: There will be two (2) essay examinations during the semester and a final examination at the end. Students may bring to the exam five 3" x   5" note cards with anything written on them.  Copied material may not be used.  The sharing of cards during the exam is prohibited. These cards may be used during the exam.  Each examination will count for 25% of a student's course grade as will the out-of-class project. It is the policy of this class to permit no make up examinations, with two exceptions: (1) instances where a particular student has a verified medical excuse, and (2) instances of personal emergency requiring a written request for make-up examination. Only in the most pressing of circumstances will a non-medical excuse be accepted, and the likelihood of acceptance is much greater when the request is made prior to the scheduled exam date. Students missing a regularly scheduled examination and not meeting either of the two exceptions will receive a Fail for that examination.


10. STUDENT-PROFESSOR CONFERENCES:  You are invited and encouraged to meet with me at any time that is mutually convenient.  My office hours are given above. If these times are not convenient to you, we can easily arrange some other time.  Please do not adopt the view that conferences are only for addressing problems.  I will be most pleased to chat with you about matters of common interest. Certainly, we should discuss any perceived difficulties you may be having in the course.   While I will normally be available and in my office during scheduled hours, there may be occasions when exigencies arise requiring me to be elsewhere.  Therefore, letting me know in advance that you wish to meet will make certain my being in my office.


A:    Each student will complete a research project involving  the description and analysis of one former President's central political program and how he went about seeking its establishment.   As always,  proper form is required (table of contents, pagination, endnotes, bibliography, etc.)  On September 24 students will submit a one page prospectus of the intended project.  This will include a tentative table of contents, one paragraph narrative of the project and 3 sources that contain information regarding the subject under inquiry.   An excellent place to begin searching for references are the footnotes at the end of each chapter in the text. 

It is essential that the description and analysis be separate.  A descriptive summary of the selected presidential program and his approach to gaining its adoption should be neutral, accurate, unbiased, and concise.  The analysis should include an evaluation of the leadership techniques provided by the President.  Were they appropriate, sufficient, effective?  If the program initiative was successful, identify and describe what you believe made it so.  If the program initiative failed, what caused this failure?  Note that this paper should focus primarily on the efforts of the President and his administration to put a new major policy in place and not on the policy itself.

On October 20 the results of the research project may be submitted. The submission should be at least 1,600 words in length (8-10  pages), computer printed and double spaced.   This paper will count for 25% of the course grade. This initial submission date is optional.  Those who meet this deadline will have the opportunity to revise their graded paper if they choose to do so.  A second and final submission date is November 10.   Late papers will be heavily penalized.

B.     Each member of the class will prepare a one page synopsis (very brief summary) of the out-of-class project. One copy will be given to each member of the class on November 19.   This will serve as the reading assignment for the final class meeting at which times member of the class will describe their out-of-class projects in an informal and collegial format.  This will be an open class discussion and not a formal presentation.   Each student should be prepared to describe to the class the essence of what was learned as a result of the out-of-class project. 

12. QUALITY REQUIREMENTS:  As a general rule, technical errors (i.e., typographical mistakes, misspellings, sloppy erasures, sentence fragments, etc.) totaling in number and amount greater than the number of pages in the body of the paper, will be heavily penalized. Moreover, papers which deviate significantly from acceptable form (i.e., incorrect or missing references -- footnotes, endnotes, etc. -- incorrect or missing bibliography, incorrect or missing table of contents, etc.) will likewise be graded down. Proper form may be gleaned from a careful review and use of Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers or other acceptable guides such as the MLA manual.  There is much valuable information on proper form that can be found at the Regis University Writing Center web site.  Information on citing Internet sources may be gleaned from my webpage.

13. USE OF THE INTERNET:  You are expected to use the Internet to locate and access material suitable for the out-of-class assignment.  A useful place to start is my web-page. It contains numerous links to useful web sites of a political nature.  I also encourage you to locate any new web sites that other students of politics might find helpful and interesting.  When appropriate I will add them to my web page with proper acknowledgment to the student who found it/them.  Utilization of e-mail will be an essential component of this class.   If you do not yet have a functioning e-mail address it is vital that you get one as soon as possible.

14.  COMPUTER USE IN CLASS:  Any student wishing to use a computer in class needs to speak with me regarding this request.  It is required that in-class utilization of the computer will be limited exclusively to class related matters:  taking notes or accessing material related to subjects under scrutiny in class.  Utilization of the computer for communication purposes or accessing of material unrelated to the class is prohibited and may result in the loss of in-class computer access privileges.

15.  ACADEMIC INTEGRITY:  It is expected that students will act honorably in all activities related to this course and will refrain from any form of academic and professional dishonesty or deception in the classroom, clinical, and other learning settings. These behaviors include cheating, plagiarism, falsification of data, falsification of records, and aiding and/or abetting dishonesty.  The Dean of the College has asked that the following language be added to course syllabi:

"Consistent with the College's Academic Integrity Policy, I will report all violations of this course's academic integrity policy to the Dean's office. Students who have committed multiple instances of academic dishonesty can be subject to institutional penalties like probation, suspension, or expulsion, in addition to the penalties for this course. The Academic Integrity policy is described in the Bulletin; detailed information about the policy and the appeals process can be found in the Dean's office."

16.    ACCOMMODATION OF DISABILITIES:  For information regarding Regis disability services policies, visit the web site of the Office of Disability Services.

17.  COURSE WITHDRAWAL POLICY:  Students are expected to know and observe the published deadlines for (a) dropping the course and (b) withdrawing from the course. These deadlines are published on the University's Academic Calendar, which is available in the Bulletin, the course schedule and is in the Dean's Office.  THESE DEADLINES ARE NOT FLEXIBLE.

18.   Important Dates and Deadlines:


Highlighted Links are Readings Assignments

8/25  Course Introduction

8/27 Creation of the Presidency (Creation Article)

 9/1  The Progressive Presidents and The Development of the Modern Presidency (Ch. 1)

9/3 Becoming President:  Nominations (Ch. 2)

9/8  Becoming President:  Elections (Ch. 2)

  9/10 & 9/15  Public Views of the President and the Presidency:  Presidential Paradoxes (Ch. 3)

9/22 Examination #1

9/24 & 9/29  Presidential Character (Ch. 4)

10/1 & 10/6  The President and Congress  (Ch. 5)

10/8 & 10/15  The President as Chief Executive:  Leadership, Power and the Presidency (Ch. 6)

10/20 & 10/22  The President and the Judiciary (Ch. 7)

10/27  Examination #2

10/29 & 11/3 Domestic Policy Making (Ch. 8)

11/5 & 11/10  Economic Policy Making (Ch. 9)

11/12 & 11/17  National Security Policy Making (Ch. 10)

11/19 & 11/24  George W. Bush:  A Wartime President (Ch. 11)

121 & 12/3  Student Reports

12/8  Examination #3, 8:30 - 10:00 a.m.