G. Calvin Mackenzie: Brief Biography

Cal Mackenzie holds an endowed chair as The Goldfarb Family Distinguished Professor of Government at Colby College where he has taught since 1978. He is a graduate of Bowdoin College, where he served as a Trustee from 1986-1998, and he has a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard.

Mackenzie's professional work focuses on governance and public policy, with a special interest in presidential transitions and the politics of presidential appointments. He has been a consultant to presidential personnel staffs and congressional committees on those matters. Mackenzie frequently testifies on personnel and ethics issues before congressional committees and special commissions and has led seminars on government ethics for senior executives of the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service.  During and after the presidential transition in 2001, he was Senior Advisor to the Presidential Appointee Initiative in Washington while serving as Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution. In 2002, he was Senior Advisor to the National Commission on the Public Service chaired by Paul Volcker.

Mackenzie is the author or editor of scores of articles and more than fifteen books. Among those are The Politics of Presidential Appointments, The House at Work, America's Unelected Government, The In-and-Outers, The Irony of Reform: Roots of American Political Disenchantment, Bucking the Deficit: Economic Policy Making in America (with economist Saranna Thornton), Innocent Until Nominated: The Breakdown of the Presidential Appointments Process, and Scandal Proof: Can Ethics Laws Make Government Ethical?  A recent book, The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960s (co-authored with historian Robert Weisbrot), was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in History.

In 1985, Mackenzie was elected President of the New England Political Science Association.  In 1992, he was appointed to serve as a chair of Maine's Board of Arbitration and Conciliation. In 1996, he was elected chairman of Maine's Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices. During the 1999-2000 academic year, Mackenzie was the John Adams Fellow at the Institute of United States Studies at the University of London.  In 2004, he was elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.  In 2005, he was a Fulbright Professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University in China. In 2012, he was a Fulbright Lecturer at the Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences in Hanoi.

Mackenzie served with the Army’s First Cavalry Division in Vietnam in 1970 and 1971. From 1985 through 1988, he was Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations at Colby. 


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