Preview story: Edward L. “Ted” Lascher Jr., professor and chair of the Sacramento State Department of Public Policy and Administration, will deliver the prestigious 2016-17 John C. Livingston Faculty Lecture at 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20, in the University Union, Redwood Room. A reception will follow.

His topic is “Curbing the Inclination Toward Populist Reform (and Why You Should Appreciate the Faculty Senate).”

“The tone will be mixed and definitely include some snarky comments, but this is a very serious topic,” Lascher says. “I’ve thought a lot about the recent presidential election and politics in thinking about where we are as a country and how it ties in with my research.”

Edward "Ted" Lascher

During the lecture, Lascher will advocate for curbing the inclination toward populist reform. Many Americans like the idea that “the cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy,” he says. In practice, though, that usually means supporting reforms that push more decisions to a broader public and undercut representatives and representative institutions.

He will argue against the approach, using examples from the national, state, and university levels. He also will draw from his research on the ballot initiative process.

“I’m really humbled,” Lascher says of being chosen as the Livingston Lecture awardee. “It’s a big honor and shows a lot of respect from my peers. The responsibility is to give a talk that is meaningful to the faculty, staff, and others. So it’s an honor and a challenge.”

Lascher joined the Department of Public Policy and Administration in 1996. He serves on the faculty of the General Education Honors and Doctorate in Educational Leadership programs.

He previously served as both interim and associate dean of the College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies, acting director of the Center for California Studies, director of the Serna Center, and vice chair of the Faculty Senate. He currently is the campus liaison to the Renaissance Society, a learning program for older adults.

Lascher’s initial foray into politics came as a 16-year-old who campaigned door-to-door in his hometown of Ventura on behalf of unsuccessful 1972 presidential candidate Sen. George McGovern.

“I got really into it,” Lascher remembers.

While many in his immediate family, including his father and sister, are lawyers, Lascher’s heart was in academia and politics, and he wanted to become a university professor. Had he not gone that route, he says, he likely would be working as a policy analyst in state government.

He earned his doctorate and master’s degrees, both in political science, from UC Berkeley. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he met his wife, Elizabeth Posner. She is a clinical supervisor for the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Sacramento State. They have two sons, Alex and Avery.

The Livingston Lecture dates to 1959, when John C. “Jack” Livingston, a professor of government from 1954 to 1982, gave the first Distinguished Faculty Convocation Address. The annual faculty lecture continued for 11 years, with the exception of 1967-68, and was discontinued after 1971.

In 1985, the Academic Senate reinstated the faculty address and renamed it in Livingston’s honor. The lecture is awarded annually to a Sacramento State faculty member who transcends his or her discipline and has a positive effect on the life of the University through teaching, service, or creative and scholarly activities, and who displays a consistent and engaging collegiality and a strong commitment to students throughout his or her career at Sacramento State. – Dixie Reid