Politics and Elections : Faculty Experts

Politics and Elections Experts

University of Dayton faculty are available for media interviews on topics important under President Donald Trump's administration — the economy, national security, terrorism, foreign policy and more.

For interviews, contact Assistant Director of News and Communications Meagan Pant at mpant1@udayton.edu, 937-229-3256 (office) or 937-212-2979 (cell), or email mediarelations@udayton.edu.

The University of Dayton offers a broadband studio for television interviews via Skype, Lifesize or FaceTime that provides high-quality broadcast capabilities at no cost to news outlets. The 24/7 studio, which can be set up in as little as 30 minutes during normal business hours and 90 minutes on nights and weekends, features a 4K UHD camera, with auto-white balance, focus, brightness and contrast controls; upload/download speeds up to 100 mbps; LED lighting; lavalier mic; IFB connection; and professional University of Dayton background. Read more about our studio here.

For satellite TV interviews, the University of Dayton news and communications office usually works through ThinkTV, which is 10 minutes from campus, and will try to accommodate other arrangements in Cincinnati or Columbus, which are 60-75 minutes away.


Dan Birdsong, lecturer, political science 
Full profile | Media hits | Video | PR contact 

Birdsong teaches courses on American politics, the presidency, campaigns and elections, media and politics, and public opinion and political behavior. He has a background in polling and policy research. He has researched how people consume news in an era of multiple sources and new media. Do people consume a variety of news sources or do they find news that fits their thinking? Is it possible to have a national discussion on any given issue when the sources of information often disagree? Birdsong worked from 2005-09 at the Institute for Policy Research on the Ohio Poll, the Ohio Health Issues Poll and the Greater Cincinnati Survey. Media hits include "Debates not a done deal: Some candidates duck the underdogs" by The Associated Press.

Presidency and Vice Presidency

Christopher Devine, assistant professor, political science
Full profile | Media hits | Video | PR contact 

Devine is co-author of The VP Advantage: How Running Mates Influence Home State Voting in Presidential Elections. He teaches courses on the American political system and political parties, campaigns and elections. His research interests also include the U.S. presidency and political ideology. He also is co-author of “The Politics of the Presidential Medal of Freedom: A Fifty Year Analysis, 1963-2013,” which was featured in The New York Times. Media hits include "How Clinton And Trump Are Using Their Running Mates On The Campaign Trail" in FiveThirtyEight.

Public Opinion, Gov't Public Relations

Grant Neeley, associate professor and chair, political science
Full profile | Media hits | Video | PR contact 

Neeley's research interests include public opinion, public administration and political behavior. He also teaches classes in morality policy, public sector human resource management and has published research on concealed carry laws and traffic safety. Neeley is a public affairs officer in the Navy Reserve and has worked for the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati and the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Tennessee. Media hits include an interview on polls by Westwood One Radio Network.


Joe Valenzano III, associate professor, communication
Full profile | Media hits | VideoPR contact 

Valenzano's research interests include rhetoric and public communication, political communication, religious communication and culture, and communication education. His doctoral dissertation focused on President George W. Bush’s use of the words "freedom" and "terror." His other research articles include: President Obama's understanding of American exceptionalism; religion in the TV show Supernatural; Pope John Paul II's death as a final homily; and Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Turkey. Media hits include "Trump administration reviewing EPA website, curbs agency communication" by CNN.


Randy Sparks, professor, marketing
Full profile | Media hits | Video | PR contact 

Sparks is less interested in what politicians say than in how they say it. With a background in radio broadcasting and research in the art of persuasion, Sparks is highly attuned to how convincing candidates are in speeches. His persuasion research has appeared in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. Media hits include "Hillary Clinton gets some old advice for her historic speech: Be yourself" in USA Today.

National and State Politics

Bob Taft, distinguished research associate
Former Ohio Governor (1999-2007)
Media hits | VideoPR contact

Taft teaches in the political science department at the University of Dayton and assists with the University's state capitol and Washington, D.C., internship programs. Before serving two terms as Ohio's governor, he was Ohio secretary of state for eight years, responsible for overseeing elections in Ohio. He serves on the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission and on the board of Battelle for Kids. As governor, Taft earned a strong reputation for school initiatives and continues to monitor state and national education reform initiatives. He also leads a seminar at the Dayton Early College Academy, a charter school on the University of Dayton campus. His father and grandfather were U.S. senators and his great-grandfather was President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft.

Environmental Policy

Michelle Pautz, associate professor, political science; director of the Master of Public Administration program
Full profile | Media hits | Video | PR contact 

Pautz's research focuses on environmental policy and regulation; government accountability; film and politics; and the administration of policy. She has worked with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources to develop and implement EPA compliance programs. She co-wrote US Environmental Policy in Action: Practice and Implementation and The Lilliputians of Environmental Regulation: The Perspective of State Regulators. Her research on the portrayal of civil servants in popular movies was reported by The New York Times, NPR's Los Angeles affiliate (KPCC 89.3), Roll CallThe Washington Times and Federal News Radio. Media hits include "How movies can change our minds" by The New York Times.

Religion and Politics

Vincent J. Miller, Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture
Full profile | Media hits | VideoPR contact 

Miller is an expert on religion and politics, religion and consumer culture, the U.S. Catholic Church's involvement in politics and public policy, social justice and public policy and the moral consequences of budgetary policies. He is author of Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture and is working on a book on the effect of globalization on religious belief. Formerly of Georgetown University, Miller has been widely sought for his comments on the global financial crisis, Catholic social teaching and the federal budget's impact on the poor. Media hits include an interview with Bill O'Reilly.

Political Parties, Interest Groups, Legislative Politics

Nancy Martorano Miller, associate professor, political science
Full profile | Media hits | VideoPR contact

Miller's primary research interest is the state legislative process. She also conducts research in the areas of Southern politics, political parties, interest groups, public opinion and state legislative politics. She formerly served as associate editor of State Politics and Policy Quarterly. Media hits include "John Kasich, still an anti-Trump holdout, faces fading influence" by The Associated Press.

Cybersecurity, Hacking

David Salisbury, director of the Center for Cybersecurity & Data Intelligence
Full profile | Media hits | VideoPR contact 

Salisbury's areas of expertise include cybersecurity and criminal and terrorist use of information technology. His published articles include "On Contending with Unruly Neighbors in the Global Village: Viewing Information Systems as Both Weapon and Target" in the journal Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Richard Stock, director, University of Dayton Business Research Group
Full profile | Media hits | Video | PR contact 

Stock is director of the University of Dayton's Business Research Group. He researches and monitors the Ohio economy, keeping an eye on trends in jobs, unemployment, housing sales, business and signs of recovery. Media hits include "Hey, Governors: You Didn’t Build That" by Politico.


Miranda Cady Hallett, assistant professor, sociology
Full profile | Media hits | PR contact

Hallett’s primary research deals with Central American immigration to the United States; and within that, the cultural construction of law and its symbolic significance, rhetoric, and social scapegoating. Her research interests also include globalization and inequality, citizenship law and labor rights. She is fluent in Spanish. Media hits include "Sessions announces revamp of immigration law systemin The Christian Science Monitor.

Terrorism, Human Rights

Mark Ensalaco, director of human rights studies
Full profile | Media hits | VideoPR contact 

Ensalaco can discuss immigration and human rights, as well as how politicians could handle foreign policy as it relates to world dictators and transitions of power (Fidel Castro). Ensalaco's focus is especially human trafficking, which is a big problem in the Midwest. He was part of a group instrumental in pushing through an Ohio bill to make human trafficking a felony in Ohio. Latin American issues are another part of his expertise, so he's very familiar with border and immigration issues. He is fluent in Spanish. Media hits include "Paris attacks lead Americans to wonder about US safety" by The Associated Press.

Human Rights, Foreign Policy

Joel Pruce, assistant professor, political science
Full profile | Media hits | VideoPR contact 

Pruce's research interests include human rights, foreign policy and international organization. His published articles include "Constituencies of Compassion: The Politics of Human Rights and Consumerism" for Uses and Misuses of Human Rights. Media hits include "The Future of Policing Is Here, and It's Terrifying" by GQ.

U.S.-Cuban Relations

Juan Santamarina, chair, history
Full profile | Media hits | PR contact 

Santamarina is co-creator of Cuba: A Lifetime of Passion, a documentary film which focuses on the human cost of the Cuban Revolution. The film aired nationwide on PBS. He is fluent in SpanishMedia hits include "The History of Walls Show They Are a Bad Idea" by U.S. News & World Report.