Natalie Hudson remembers when, as a UD undergraduate, it was her time to enroll in the “dreaded class” all political science majors at UD had to take — Gerald Kerns’ political theory course.
“It was extremely difficult, but it was the class where we learned the most,” said Hudson, now a professor of political science at UD. “That was his mantra, he wanted to push his students to learn.”
For 41 years, thousands of learners became better writers, critical thinkers and scholars after taking Kerns’ courses. When he died March 19, 2014, at 80, he left a legacy of accomplishments in the political science department including being the a driving force behind the development of the University’s international studies major in 1981. A master’s program in international studies was later added.
“He was legendary for his courses in political theory, constitutional law and civil liberties,” said longtime friend and colleague Margaret Karns, professor emerita of political science. “Jerry was demanding but also known for the high quality of the recommendations he’d write for many of the top students who went on to law and graduate schools.
“He was a teacher par excellence.”
Under Kerns’ leadership, which included more than a decade of service as department chair, the political science department also added positions in Soviet/Russian politics and Latin American politics, which brought current professor Jaro Bilocerkowyz and current human rights studies director Mark Ensalaco to UD.
Kerns was also active with UD’s pre-law program, helping many students continue their studies at law programs across the country.
Memorial donations can be made to a scholarship in Kerns’ name at UD.