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Dr. J. Michael Bitzer

Professor of Politics and History


histpol1.jpgWhen he's not entertaining (or being entertained by) his son, Michael Bitzer is a bow-tie-wearing professor of politics at Catawba College. He teaches a wide variety of courses in American politics, public administration & policy, and law. He likes to challenge his students and their points of view, often serving as devil's advocate to their arguments, thereby strengthening their own ideas along with being introduced to other sides of issues. He believes that the value of a liberal arts education is to challenge students to resist the easy answers, but to instead search for those that are worthy of consideration.

When not in the classroom and in his office, Bitzer has done research in a variety of areas, including administrative law and politics, on the interaction between the legislative and executive branches of states governments, as well as on American civil liberties and rights—but his love is Southern politics. Most recently, he wrote a book chapter on The Simpsons and political culture and public opinion, based on a course, "Society & The Simpsons," which he taught for the Freshmen Seminar program. One day he will write the definitive biography of Strom Thurmond, but since Thurmond lived to be one hundred years old, it make take Bitzer that long to write it as well. He also enjoys doing research on American campaigns and elections. He is currently working on a project focusing on North Carolina elections and the behavior of suburban Tar Heels versus those living in the urban and rural parts of the state. He has also rung in the Catawba Handbell Choir (although not always on the right beat or note).

His research interests have allowed him to become a political analyst for two of the top Charlotte TV stations, WSOC-TV (ABC) and WCCB-TV (Fox), along with other media outlets. They ask him to comment (over a hundred different interviews in just three years) on everything from live interviews during the Iraq invasion of 2003 and election night coverage to interviews on the Confederate flag in American politics for The Christian Science Monitor and the perception of Alabama in the nation for an NPR station.

When he's not on campus, you can usually find him watching either an ACC or SEC football game, or (the highpoint of his sports life) an ACC basketball game. He's also been known to work his way through dense foliage and down wet, slippery rocks to fish for trout in western North Carolina and northeast Georgia streams. He's awaiting his son, Drew, to become a little older before he introduces him to the fine art of trout fishing; actually, Drew has already been properly trained when it comes to loyalties regarding college sports: "No bees, bull-rah-rah!" (translation: "bees" mean Georgia Tech Yellowjackets, while a "rah-rah" is a dog).

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Updated: 5/29/08