Dr. Sam Fisher
Dr. Sam Fisher, Associate Professor of Political Science and Criminal Justice, is retiring after 32 years in the College of Arts & Sciences. Fisher began his career at USA on September 1, 1987, when he was hired out of graduate school at the University of Alabama (ABD) to fill a one-year position. Subsequently, he became a tenure-track faculty member; he completed his Ph.D. in May 1989.
Throughout his career, Fisher’s research focus has been on public opinion and legislative
behavior. He has co-authored a book, Representing America: The Citizen and Professional Legislator in the House of Representatives, with colleague Dr. Rebekah Herrick of Oklahoma State University. He has also done
research on Québec politics and public opinion.
Fisher particularly enjoys teaching two classes, “Research Design” and “Legislative Process.” He says the Research Design class is fun because it is like teaching a language. He adds, “The terminology and the statistical software can be daunting, but it is great to see students ultimately grasp the material.” The changes in Congress over the last two decades have made teaching the Legislative Process a challenge. According to Fisher, “A lot of what I taught early on about legislative norms and behavior are no longer applicable. With Trump in office and Congressional Republicans abandoning Congressional norms, it is an interesting class to teach.”
While national politics has seen much change over the last twenty years, Fisher says, “In some ways there has been little change in Alabama politics.” Indeed, when Fisher arrived at the University of Alabama, local, state and federal offices were controlled by conservative Democrats. As Fisher notes, “Over the years those same conservative Democrats switched to conservative Republicans and now dominate the same political offices.”
Fisher’s passion for studying political science was entrenched while he was in high school. Not surprisingly, he chose to major in this discipline as an undergraduate at Trinity University. After graduation, Fisher moved from San Antonio to Houston for work. He started at a company supplying turbine and compressor parts. Later, he changed jobs to work for a wholesale electrical supply house. Fisher says, “After two years, I decided I wanted to get a masters in political science and teach at a community college. After I started classes at the University of Alabama, my professors encouraged me to pursue a Ph.D.”
The encouragement to get the Ph.D. in Political Science has been a boon for Fisher and for the University of South Alabama. At South, Fisher has worked closely with countless students and served on countless College and University committees. He also founded the USA Polling Group. He has been active on the Faculty Senate and served as its president 2016/2017.
Fisher has also been active in the Masters of Public Administration program in the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice. He points out that the M.P.A. here at South has remained a strong graduate program. According to Fisher, “A recently-instituted track in Health Policy and Administration has been very popular.”
Retirement is just around the corner for Fisher, who looks forward to travel, cooking, and reading. According to Fisher, “Cooking is as close to a hobby as I have right now. I enjoy sailing with friends on Mobile Bay and look forward to a lot more of that activity.” His colleagues in the College of Arts & Sciences wish Fisher well. It will certainly seem strange not to see Fisher in the Humanities Building, or in its courtyard, or getting his morning coffee at the Marx Library Starbucks.