Cairo Joins Political Science Department

by J.R. Enderle

The political science department at Transylvania has a new member. Dr. Michael F. Cairo, currently a part-time instructor in political science, will begin working full-time at Transy beginning in the fall.

Dr. Cairo’s hiring comes after the departure of Dr. Sakah Mahmud, who after 11 years at Transy departed to organize a political science program at Kwara State University in Malete, Nigeria. To accommodate this change, the university brought in Dr. Cairo to teach Politics of the Middle East and also the May term course The Model United Nations.

An upstate New York native from around Saratoga, Dr. Cairo said that he loves Kentucky. He said that he enjoys Kentucky’s industries like the horses, and that it is a great place to raise his two young children with his wife.

The choice to come to Transylvania, after being a professor at nearby Georgetown College for 10 years was obvious for Dr. Cairo.

“This is an upward move for me,” Cairo said. “I’m going to a school with a stronger academic standing. This is an opportunity to really be at a better school.”

“I love it,” Cairo said, referring to his feelings about Transy. “The students are great, the colleagues are great.”

Cairo said he is also very impressed with the academic climate on campus.

“I notice a real academic curiosity, an intellectual curiosity that is really inspiring,” Cairo said.

Cairo said he hopes to turn some of this academic curiosity into a Model United Nations program at Transylvania, an activity he has sponsored at Georgetown College.
Cairo described Model U.N. as a program where students get to role-play as ambassadors in the United Nations. While at Georgetown College, he took students to Chicago every year for a Model U.N. event.

As a researcher, Cairo specializes in American foreign policy, comparative politics of Europe and the Middle East, and human rights in international law. He received his doctorate in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia in 1999 and is currently revising a book for the University of Kentucky Press, in which he compares the two Bush administrations’ policies regarding the Middle East.

Cairo was hired after three candidates were brought on campus for a discussion on pedagogy with members of the social sciences division, a lunch with students and a job talk where research papers were presented, among other activities.

Political science program director Dr. Don Dugi said that the committee was looking for someone who could teach about international relations, and in particular international organizations.

“He can handle all the aspects for an international affairs major,” said Dugi.

Also important is the fact that he is an “experienced teacher,” Dugi said, mentioning that the feedback received from students and colleagues alike was very positive.

“In poker terms, you’re not betting on a come,” he added.


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