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Mark Dodson '12 thinks he has the job in the bag but, confident and self possessed, he is holding out for expenses for relocating to San Francisco. The recruiter, Katie Palladino '11, hesitates, but ultimately doesn't offer much resistance.
Their negotiation is low key and cordial, and they quickly come to agreement about starting date, salary and bonuses. Other recruiters are having a harder time with stubborn job seekers clearly pushing the envelope with their demands. But finally all seven teams of recruiters and candidates have hammered out their terms.
"Wheeling and Dealing: The Art and Science of Negotiation" is interactive and challenging, demands critical thinking and has real world applications– whether buying a car or understanding the consequences of the U.S. taking a public stand in the Libyan crisis.
In other words, just the kind of course Professor Tom Brogan, Ph.D., is known for.
The techniques of negotiation are central to decision making and conflict resolution in every aspect of society, and certainly important for the future politicians, diplomats and lawyers in Brogan's class. Role playing is a key component as students explore topics like power, ethics and coalitions.
During the class, Brogan stands calmly in the center of the horseshoe of conference tables, hands in the pockets of his suit. As the discussion warms up, the jacket comes off, but the good humored demeanor remains. Although he has lived in Reading since he came to Albright in 1970 as a young instructor, you can still hear his West Philadelphia roots in his speech.
Brogan's goal is to prepare his students for the realities of careers in politics, government, law, education and public service and his principle hasn't changed—engage them in the real world.
He has taught courses in American government, the U.S. Congress and public administration, among others, but the "Political Parties" course is his clear favorite. In his view, campaigns and political parties are where the action is, and something most students experience for the first time in—and outside of – his classroom. "'Parties' is always an interesting class because I require that the students go out and actually work in the field."
It is one of the more memorable courses for students, who are required to put in 20 hours on a real political campaign during the course. For Jessica Winski '07, working on John Kerry's campaign for president was "when I started really liking campaigns and campaign work – and I worked a lot more than 20 hours."
Terry Miller '96 was one of the few students who had worked on a campaign before taking the course. Brogan notes with pride that Miller "ended up in the White House." Miller says he was encouraged by Brogan to become active in the '92 congressional race, and that was "what got me to understand that I like the political side of things." Miller was tapped the day after graduation by the Pennsylvania Republican Committee and went on to manage two congressional campaigns and become associate director for Internal Government Affairs in Washington. Now director of business development for Computer Sciences Corporation, he cites Brogan's exceptional ability "to get you to live it for a while" which "really helped me to know what to do next."
Winski, a doctoral student in political science at the University of Oklahoma, credits Brogan with encouraging her to blend her interests of psychology and political science. Her Albright Creative Research Experience (ACRE) project was in political psychology, using the Myers Briggs Type Inventory to determine whether personality types influenced political motivations and activities. Winski also credits Brogan with discouraging her from an internship in Washington "on the hill" where she'd be making coffee and copies, and urging her to take one where she'd have a meaningful, hands-on experience.
Brogan as prof is driven by Brogan as political animal. He is an election junkie, who likes "the conflict that goes on and the discussion about it, and the legislative process. That is the real democratic institution. It's not as elite as the courts, and it's not as bureaucratic as the executive [branch], so that's where real politics is played."
In the heady political days of the early 1970s, Brogan, thinking about a career in government, became a delegate to the 1972 Democratic national convention in Miami during Hubert Humphrey's second presidential bid. But after Albright offered him a teaching job, he opted for academe and managed to blend both education and government. From 1984 until 2000, he was Pennsylvania state manager for the Voter News Service, organizing and feeding election results to the national media, a job he also involved his students in.
"He is always there to listen, to support
Tim McNichol '99, deputy executive director of the American College of Osteopathic Internists in Washington and a lobbyist for his organization, can still recite Brogan's definition of politics – "the authoritative regulation of conflict within a social consensus." McNichol recalls working with Brogan and other students on Voter News Service the semester Jesse Ventura got elected. He also remembers trips to the World Trade Center and to Washington, D.C., to meet lobbyists. A Berks County native, "I had never even left Reading until I did that," he says. "Dr. Brogan gave us a healthy dose of reality."
"You really get to know the students when you take them off campus," Brogan says. He laughs with delight at the memory of one teaching experience outside of the classroom. He took a group of students to participate in a YMCA program in Harlem called "Confronting New York." The program director wanted the students to find their own way back to their hotel. "'Let them confront the city!' I said, 'Will all of those who haven't taken a subway ride raise your hand?' Everybody raised their hand. I said, 'How do you get into the city?' They said, 'We don't go into the city.' The students had never even taken a subway."
While his teaching outside the classroom hasn't changed much, Brogan says that his classroom techniques have changed somewhat over the decades. "The subject matter evolves over time but what has really changed is the format of teaching. You've got the Internet, you've got PowerPoints, you've got all this stuff, the technology."
And today he says, students "demand more participation in the learning process than they did before. When I first came here in the 70s, you walked in, you gave a 50-minute lecture, and that was it. If they had questions on the lecture, they came to see you. Now the notes are on PowerPoint and the web so students can listen more and hopefully participate a little bit more than they did in the past."
Brogan extends his political expertise beyond the campus as an expert commentator in publications including The New York Times on topics both local and national—primary elections, the impact of shifts in voter demographics, the advantages of incumbents and political redistricting (the subject of his recent sabbatical research, as well as research with an NSF grant some years ago.)
Brogan's connections with his students also go far beyond their years in residence at Albright. He is in regular contact with former students from four decades. Paul Sracic, Ph.D. '84, now professor and chair of the department of political science at Youngstown State University, acknowledges Brogan in the preface of his book San Antonio v. Rodriguez and the Pursuit of Equal Education: The Debate over Discrimination and School Funding (Landmark Law Cases and American Society). "More than 25 years ago, on my first day as an undergraduate at Albright College, Thomas Brogan was assigned to me as my academic adviser. This is a role that I have never really allowed him to abandon, and he has never failed to provide support and guidance as I have pursued my career as a political scientist."
Former trustee Sharon Minnich '92, chief information officer for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, says Brogan helped her in her decision to take a different path from the one she had mapped out as a political science professor. "I actually was not going into government as a career… so I was torn. He supported me in my decision to give up a full scholarship and move in a different direction, going to the University of Pennsylvania for government. As a trustee I see how he uses political skills to work to build consensus. I think if any one person made an impact on me, it was Tom Brogan. He is always there to listen, to support and to educate." Meanwhile, back in the negotiations class, the students begin a detailed analysis of their process and each team's results. Brogan easily involves them in explaining the key techniques that drive the negotiation process to each other, using the practical experiences they just shared. No dry textbook analysis here.
Katie Palladino '11, who is planning to go to law school, and Mark Dodson '12, who is thinking about the ministry, are taking as many Brogan courses as they can. "He makes the material interesting, Mark says, and Katie echoes, "He makes me laugh." Next week, they have bigger fish to fry— negotiating the price of oil.
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