Dr. Bruce E. Altschuler
An initial failed attempt at college as an engineering student and a tour of duty with the U.S. Army in Vietnam helped Dr. Bruce Altschuler identify his true passions and build a four-decade career as an educator and expert on politics and the American presidency.
“When I came back from Vietnam, I decided to study political science at the City College of New York and got straight As,” he said. “Based on my experience in Vietnam and how we were destroying that country, I came back strongly opposed to the war.”
This was the same time as the Kent State shootings and the City University of New York temporarily being shut down in May 1970 due to student protests, he said.
“At that time, it was hard to not be involved in some kind of activism,” he said.
He traces his passion for politics and the presidency back to his days as a non-traditional undergraduate. After earning a bachelor’s in political science, he went on to earn a master’s and Ph.D. in political science at CUNY.
In 1976, before completing his dissertation, Altschuler was offered a temporary position that evolved into a full-time position at SUNY Oswego, and he ended up spending his entire career here, staying true to his activist roots through his involvement with the United University Professions, the union that represents SUNY faculty and professional staff.
“I felt like I had a home in Oswego,” he said. “The college gave me the freedom to teach whatever I wanted.”
For example, he developed unique course offerings that combined his teaching and research interests, including Women and Politics and Films About Presidents. He said students’ questions and comments often helped him direct his research to explore new areas within a particular subject.
Among his many publications are seven books, including Seeing through the Screen: Interpreting American Film (Lexington Books, 2017). He was a political analyst for WRVO-FM, the on-campus National Public Radio station, and has been interviewed numerous times by national and international media outlets about American politics and the presidency.
Among his many recognitions, he cherishes a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research, SUNY Research Foundation Award, SUNY Oswego President’s Award for Creative and Scholarly Activity or Research and a NYS Associated Press Award for his “Election Project” documentary in 1996. His alma mater has recognized him with its Ph.D. Alumni Association Achievement Award and Graduate Center Political Science Department’s Outstanding Alumni Award.
He said he takes great pride in some of the outstanding faculty he was able to recruit during his 12-year tenure as the chair of the political science department and in following the professional accomplishments of his many former students, with whom he remains in contact.
Today, he is a board member of Brooklyn For Peace, and he recently established an endowed scholarship at SUNY Oswego through a bequest that will be awarded to deserving students with financial need and a commitment to positive change in society. He serves on the Sheldon Legacy Society Steering Committee and as the moderator for the Oswego Alumni Association’s election events in New York City and Washington, D.C.
“I have a lot of friends from Oswego, and the college has provided me with lifelong connections to colleagues and former students,” he said. “I am happy to stay involved with the campus and with the people.” l