Wilbur Rich

Kenan Professor Emeritus of Political Science

Retired from teaching

Wilbur C. Rich is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of political science (emeritus) at Wellesley College. He earned his B.S. from Tuskegee Institute and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Before joining the Wellesley College political science faculty, he was a professor at Wayne State University where he directed the Master of Public Administration Program (1980-1986). He has also taught at the University of Illinois, Columbia University, University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin. He has been a visiting scholar at John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Russell Sage Foundation. His primary areas of research are urban politics, presidency, public policy and school politics. Much of his research efforts have concentrated on the nexus between mayoral politics and urban problems. At Wellesley College he taught Urban Politics, Public Policy Analysis, The American Presidency, The Politics of Urban Public Schools and Minority Politics.

He is the author of The Politics of Urban Personnel Policy: Reformers, Politicians, and Bureaucrats (1982), Coleman Young and Detroit Politics: From Social Activist to Power Broker (1989), Black Mayors and School Politics (1996) and David Dinkins and New York City Politics: Race, Images and the Media (2007). The Post Racial Society is Here: Recognition, Critics and the Nation-State (2013). The Transformative City: Charlotte Takeoffs and Landings (2020), His latest books are Boston Mayor Thomas Menino: Lessons for Governing Post-Industrial Cities (2023), The Upcoming Insignificance of the American Presidency: Flouting the Framer's Forewarnings ( 2024). He co-authored a book with Roberta Hughes Wright, The Wright Man: A Biography of Charles Wright, MD (1999).

He has published five edited books The Politics of Minority Coalition (1996), The Economics and Politics of Sports Stadiums (2000), Mayoral Leadership in Middle-Sized Cities (2000) with James Bowers, and Mayors in the Middle: Politics, Race, and Mayoral Control of Urban Schools (2004) with Jeff Henig, African American Perspectives on the Political Science Discipline (2007). He also edited Looking Back on President Barack Obama’s Legacy: Hope and Change (2019).

In addition, he has published several articles, book chapters and reports concerning local government administrative problems. He serves on the editorial board of four academic journals and was once President of the Northeastern Political Science Association and President of New England Political Science Association. In 2009 he was awarded the Norton Long Career Achievement Award by the Urban Section, of American Political Science Association.

Since retirement he has continued his research on cities. He is currently working on a book that analyzes the political career of Thomas Menino, former mayor of Boston. He has recently written a book entitled The Transformative City: Charlotte Takeoffs and Landings. He continues to attend academic conferences and present papers. He also reviews articles and writes book reviews for journals.