Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke will teach Texas politics at Texas State in the spring 2021 semester, the Department of Political Science told The University Star on Oct. 15.
Pending finalization of his hire, O'Rourke will join the department as an instructor teaching a synchronous online class. Political Science Chair Ken Grasso says he discussed potential class subjects with O'Rourke, who he says gravitated toward Texas politics.
“He originally approached people in the administration... and expressed an interest in teaching,” Grasso said. “I was thrilled. He's got a unique take on things with his experience as a congressman and as [a] senatorial candidate and even a presidential candidate. So we're very happy to have him.”
Grasso says O’Rourke expressed a desire to connect with young adults as his motivation to teach, especially during such a "crucial time for the state and the country."
He added that O'Rourke's arrival will be an exciting development for Texas State's political science faculty and staff.
“I don't know that so much it's going to increase enrollments; it'll certainly increase visibility,” Grasso said. “That's always a good thing. We tend to sometimes to get lost in the shadow of other institutions.”
If the campus COVID-19 situation is favorable in the spring, Grasso says O'Rourke could teach face-to-face. The department will work to keep his class size small to maximize his interactions with students.
Grasso believes O’Rourke’s experience in the House of Representatives and Texas government will give students a unique look at the subject of Texas politics.
"He's an actual practitioner out there," Grasso said. "You don't know a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins, and none of us have walked in his moccasins."
He only confirmed O’Rourke’s plans to teach for the spring 2021 semester but hopes the university can continue to work with the former congressman past next semester, sparking "the beginning of a long-term relationship."
O'Rourke visited Texas State for a town hall event in the LBJ Student Center during his 2018 senatorial campaign. He returned to San Marcos in October of that year to host a town hall at The Marc, a music venue/night club.
The University Star will provide more information as it becomes available.