Former Phoenix finds great success returning to the nest
Prof. Aaron Weinschenk comes full circle, rises quickly
When Aaron Weinschenk graduated from Green Bay’s Preble High School in 2003 and enrolled at UW-Green Bay, he never envisioned he would return to campus one day to teach the very courses that lit his academic curiosity and set him on his professional journey.
“I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to study,” Weinschenk recalled, “maybe psychology or business, I thought, and I knew UW Green Bay would be a good place to go and would offer a range of offerings. I took a couple of general education courses in political science, and they sparked my interest in government and politics.”
Fast-forward about 18 years and Weinschenk finds himself back on campus, serving as the Ben J. and Joyce Rosenberg Professor of Political Science, chairing the Political Science Department, teaching (among others) American Government and Introduction to Public Policy (the two gen ed courses that captured his interest in his undergrad years), and leading a political science research lab he founded.
On top of that, the research lab has gained attention from his peers across the country as a potential model for their own colleges and universities. And somehow over the years, Weinschenk found time to write a book and publish (so far) 45 peer-reviewed articles, including some in journals such as the British Journal of Political Science, one of the most prestigious general interest journals in the entire discipline.
Maybe these are the reasons he has advanced so quickly. He gained tenure in four years and was promoted to full professor just three years later. That marked his rise as one of the fastest among his peers and made him (at age 34) one of the University’s youngest full professors.
“He is invested in his students, in the people he works with and in the community where he lives,” said Alise Coen, associate professor of Political Science at UW-Green Bay. “We are incredibly lucky to have him.”
Although acknowledging that his production takes a lot of time, Weinschenk quickly brushes it off.
“I love what I’m doing, so it doesn’t really seem like work,” he says.
That passion for his specialty was evident during his undergraduate studies.
“After those gen ed courses lit my fire, I focused on political science,” said Weinschenk. “In my senior year here, one of my professors told me that if I really wanted to learn about political polling and research methods, I should enroll at UW-Milwaukee to study under Tom Holbrook because he was among the best in the field. I literally wouldn’t have gone to graduate school to study political behavior without the mentorship of several of the faculty here—they changed my life.
“I had several interviews and opportunities outside Wisconsin, after graduate school,” he continued. “I was drawn back to UWGB because of the great experiences I had when I was a student here. UWGB is a special place. The opportunity to work with students in class and on research, and to mentor them as I was mentored is one of my favorite parts of the job.”
His students and peers reflect the joy Weinschenk shares in working with them.
“Dr. Weinschenk creates a friendly atmosphere in the small research lab,” said Gage Beck (2021). “He teaches us about topics that can often be complicated, but are explained very well.”
“He is an epic scholar, teacher and leader,” said Coen. “He’s also a thoughtful and caring colleague and person. He brings a larger-than-life level of enthusiasm and determination to everything he takes on. I think his students appreciate the engaging and authentic way he teaches and brings his expertise into the classroom.”
When you think about it, Weinschenk’s story is a perfect example of UW-Green Bay’s cultural philosophy: Together, we RISE.
Story by freelance writer Jim Streed. Photo: Marketing and University Communication