Since 2000, William Horner has been an associate professor in the Department of Political Science in the MU College of Arts and Science. He also has served as the director of undergraduate studies for the department. Students praise Horner for actively involving them in the classroom and connecting with them on a personal level.
“I was struggling with my studies at MU, and I wasn’t doing much about it until Professor Horner sat me down and gave me some encouraging words,” said Kenny Wiley, a 2011 political science graduate from MU. “His insight and willingness to reach out made all the difference. Because of that day, I found what I believe is my true calling and I am now Harvard Divinity School’s student body president.”
Horner believes that interdisciplinary education in the classroom is something that is often undervalued in today’s society and tries to implement it in his own classroom setting. In one of his upper-level classes, Horner brings together individuals from various academic backgrounds to provide insight and broaden the horizons of his students.
While Horner is able to provide more one-on-one attention to students in upper-level courses, lecturing is the main component in introductory political science courses with dozens of students. Yet, Horner still explores ways to engage his students and help them take the knowledge learned in the lecture hall and apply it in their personal lives. One way that Horner effectively engages his students is through the use of videos from popular television shows, including The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Saturday Night Live, that relate to topics discussed in the classroom.
“Horner’s oratory skills are strong, and he presents his lectures at a good pace and is able to keep student interest,” said Vanya Krieckhaus, associate professor of political science at MU. “I never see bored faces and students appear to be busy listening or taking notes whenever I visit his classes. Horner is able to answer questions when asked and can relate implications in class to current events or popular culture when necessary.”
Horner also brings political experts to the campus to enhance the learning experience for his students. Last year, he helped organize a conference, “Engineering’s Connections between Politics and Science for the 21st Century,” which brought speakers from state government to discuss scientific discovery and policy making in government.
In addition to his classroom teaching, Horner has played a key role in numerous student organizations at MU. For example, he has helped Pi Sigma Alpha, the honors fraternity for political science at MU, flourish since his involvement began in 2007. Horner has taken the group from a few student members to a regular membership in excess of 40 students. He also is involved in MU’s Model United Nations and Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the National Cancer Society.
“Horner has stood out for his diligent efforts beyond the classroom,” said John Petrocik, chair of the Department of Political Science at MU. “I have always been impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment that he brings to his teaching responsibilities.”
Horner received bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University in radio, television and film teaching, a master’s degree from Arizona State University in political science and a doctoral degree in government with an emphasis in American politics, political behavior, methodology and political communication from the University of Texas.