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Bass, Scott A.
Provost

Office of the Provost
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016-8061

Faculty Success Story

SOC’s Steinhorn: Showcasing student experts

By Marjorie Neumann

Leonard Steinhorn's undergraduate honors class, Presidential Campaign 2008: Inside the War Room and the News Room, was studying part of history. After all, Barack Obama was the nation's first African American candidate with a serious chance of becoming president.

That kind of excitement prompted Fox News in D.C. to carry weekly broadcasts of the School of Communication professor's class—on air and online.

Campaign U, the American University and Fox collaboration, highlighted the analysis of the class of 20 AU students over the final 10 weeks of the 2008 election.

Fox broadcast student teams studying such campaign topics as polls, the debates, humor, media bias, and the impact of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

But this wasn't the first time a television news show had focused on the insights of Steinhorn’s students.

His classes on the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections were covered by CNN and NBC's Washington, D.C., affiliate, respectively.

"It's been one of the greatest educational experiences I've ever had, [or] my students have ever had," he said of the televised classes.

How accurate were the students' analyses of the campaign? His class ended up predicting Obama's margin of victory more accurately than their teacher, calling Democratic wins in such swing states as Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Steinhorn, who is director of the school's Public Communication Division, is also an affiliate professor of history at AU. Twice named AU's Faculty Member of the Year, he has served as president of AU's Phi Beta Kappa chapter.