Sac State Torchlight

Carrying on the legacy of Tim Hodson

The Tim Hodson Memorial Scholarship will benefit students in the Capitol Fellows program.

The Tim Hodson Memorial Scholarship will benefit students in the Capitol Fellows program.

Public service. Those are two words you hear again and again when people talk about Tim Hodson.
Hodson was widely recognized as an expert on state government and the prickly business of redistricting. During election season, he was a sought-after source for reporters around the state and country on the business of the electoral process as well as for his dry sense of humor. He was also on the faculty of the public policy and administration department and even taught a freshman-level government class.
But he was perhaps best known for his longtime leadership of The Center for California Studies, and in particular, the highly regarded and highly competitive Capital Fellows program, which provides paid fellowships for students from around the country to work in California government. When Hodson took over the program, it already had placements with the legislative (Assembly and Senate) and executive branches. Hodson recognized the need for a link with the third branch and reached out to the judiciary to get the Judicial Fellows program established.
“What Tim did is a tribute to him and his political and academic savvy,” says Donna Hoenig-Couch, director of the Judicial Administration Fellowship Program. “He unified the Capital Fellows program, linking public policy and public service to education in each branch of government. It was a niche our University could provide—bringing in the policy and public service aspect.”
“Tim was a really special person. He was able to shadow both those areas (government and academics),” says Rob Wassmer, chair of the Department of Public Policy and Administration. “It was a good fit.”
When Hodson died last fall after a long battle with cancer, his friends and colleagues talked about what to do to preserve his memory. “The natural thing was a scholarship,” Wassmer says.
The Timothy A. Hodson Scholarship is designed help students to overcome financial barriers that might otherwise prevent them from participating in the Capital Fellows program. Fellows receive a stipend, but the scholarship is designed to cover financial needs beyond what the award provides.
“All along Tim talked about trying to establish something,” says Fran Burton, who worked with Hodson in state government and reviewed applications for Senate Fellows. “You’d get students who didn’t go through because they didn’t have the proper clothes. They knew there was a stipend but they couldn’t meet first and last month’s rent.
“It would eat at Tim. It bothered him. It bothered us.”
“The scholarship is a way to augment the stipend, allowing for expenses that a fellow might need for relocation or a professional wardrobe—whatever needs that would prevent them from experiencing the fellowship,” says Hoenig-Couch “We wanted to carry Tim’s dedication to diversity and inclusivity by attracting students from different geographic locations, political affiliations, and racial and economic backgrounds. That sense of inclusion was an important part of who he was.”
Burton notes that when the campus held a retirement celebration, Hodson did not want a gift. Instead he wanted any contributions to go to the scholarship. He died just two weeks after the event.
“We decided we wanted to raise enough to make it an endowment,” Burton says. Endowments require a minimum of $10,000 and allow the scholarship to be distributed in perpetuity.
The scholarship fund has already raised $53,000 and organizers hope that as more people become aware of it, it will continue to grow. Contributors included many people who had worked in the legislature with Hodson and many who gave had employed fellows or had been fellows themselves. “It was a tribute to him,” Burton says.
“Capital Fellows is a program that has launched many careers,” Hoenig-Couch says. “We hope that the scholarship will launch students academically and professionally in careers of solid public service, which is what Tim was all about.”
For information on the Center for California Studies
or to contribute to the Tim Hodson Scholarship, visit
csus.edu/calst.