U.Va. Politics Student Wins Warner Leadership Research Award

April 18, 2012 — Edward Smith, a politics honors major in the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences, has received a Sen. John W. Warner Public Leadership Undergraduate Research Award.

The annual award is given by the U.Va. Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost to a third-year undergraduate who exhibits a serious ambition to seek public office in the future, whether in a part-time city council position or a full-time legislative or executive office.

The award, up to $3,000, is intended to fund research informing the recipient's future career as an elected official. The proposed work should result in a significant research product, such as an honors or distinguished majors thesis or an analysis of an important policy issue and a proposed solution to the problems it raises.

Smith, from Hampton, is studying the impact of money in politics.

"I am researching the effects that 'Super PACs' will have on the upcoming 2012 presidential election," Smith said. "I chose this topic because many predict that this election will be the most polarized in recent memory due to the 'Citizens United' Supreme Court decision."

The Warner Award provides students a chance to explore their passion for politics, said John D. Simon, executive vice president and provost.

"In a time with public attention focused on the upcoming presidential election and campaign, the Warner Award provides an invaluable opportunity for students with aspirations of running for public office to conduct thoughtful research on topics that will inform their future service," Simon said. "This award has provided a means for some of our most talented students to pursue scholarly inquiries with their faculty mentors."

The son of Eddie Smith and the late Juwanna Smith, Edward Smith is a graduate of Hampton Roads Academy, an Echols Scholar, a member of the Raven Society and a recipient of Intermediate Honors. He plans to attend graduate school for political science.

"Ed has a sophisticated, analytical intelligence and a good feel for political theory," said George Klosko, the Henry and Grace Doherty Professor of Politics and Smith's political theory professor.

The Sen. John W. Warner Public Leadership Award is funded through an endowment established by the former U.S. senator. This is the fifth year that U.Va. has presented the award.

– by Matt Kelly