The three rules to success: an interview with Professor David Schultz

US alumnus David Schultz reveals how self-discipline, reflection and enjoying what you do helps him juggle a multifaceted career
Professor David Schultz
Academic, author, editor, mentor, Student Ambassador: Professor David Schultz
Because of my comparative knowledge of US, EU, and UK law, I am asked to teach classes or give talks that draw linkages across them. There is no question that the University of London degree has opened these opportunities

Some people have such a knack of juggling roles that they give the impression of living a number of different lives simultaneously. With a busy teaching career, a prodigious output of articles, essays and books, and a clutch of degrees to his name, University of London alumnus Professor David Schultz is one such person.

Working mainly with doctoral and masters-level students in public administration at Hamline University, USA, while teaching election law at the University of Minnesota Law School – a mere 10km apart – means he's kept very busy between the two schools. "I often joke and tell people I am either very well-rounded in my interests or I cannot decide what I want to do when I grow up!" Remarkably, David finds the time to act as a Student Ambassador for the University of London International Programmes, having graduated with an LLM in 2002.

With over 20 years’ experience teaching graduate and undergraduate students, David is forthright about what he feels is the most important aspect of his role as an academic.

"There is no question that interacting with students and mentoring them is the most important task. Over the years, to see students go on and become successful as leaders is perhaps the greatest satisfaction I have experienced. Having said that, I really do enjoy the research and writing aspect of being a professor. I think my teaching and my research interests reinforce one another."

In my own studies I have followed three rules. First, do the required readings for the classes and think about them. Second, do outside readings as they supplement the required readings. Finally, take notes on all that you have read

Regarding his own academic study – a PhD in political science, MAs galore, a BA in political science and philosophy – what, I wondered, was his secret in terms of producing the best results?

"In my own studies I have followed three rules. First, do the required readings for the classes and think about them. Second, do outside readings as they supplement the required readings. Finally, take notes on all that you have read. I literally have boxes of notes on all of the books I read in my studies. The notes are rich in references to what the authors said and my reflections on them."

Considering all of his other commitments, it must have been tough to complete the PhD?

"Actually I did the PhD as a full-time student. I returned to school full time after working for several years. But it was still hard work in the sense that moving from working full time to being a student full time was a change in status and income (at least for a period of time). Also, after working, your frame of reference changes and you see the world differently when you return to school. I think this maturity helped in my studies and it gave me important perspectives that many younger students did not have."

Of his five masters-level awards, one in particular stands out: a Masters in Astronomy from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. What prompted his decision to pursue this?

"I began college as a physicist and wanted to be an astronomer. At age 18, though, my interests changed and I also realized that I was not as proficient in math as I needed to be to be a physicist. But later in life I decided to pursue a degree in astronomy, not because of career interests, but out of love for the subject and without the pressure of grades and worry that being second-rate in math would hurt me. Thus, securing the astronomy degree was a dream of my life realized."

"Because of the LLM from London, I have had many opportunities to teach in Europe"

David chose to study for an LLM through the University of London International Programmes for two reasons. "First, I wanted to know more about the law of the European Union and the UK in particular. Second, the University of London had an excellent distance learning programme with a sterling reputation. The programme exactly fit my needs and schedule."

What, if any, were the particular challenges you faced when studying for the LLM?

"The biggest challenge, of course, was balancing the LLM studies with my career. The trick was to remain disciplined and to do one’s studies every week. This was one challenge. The second was that it is sometimes difficult to work alone. When I did my studies there was little contact with students or professors. At times I wished for the opportunity to talk to others about my studies. The conversational aspect of education is something I craved and I had to find alternative ways to address that. In my final term of studies I did find that the University of London had started a student connection with others around the world. It was a terrific way to engage with other students."

And has the LLM helped you in your career?

"Yes, most definitely. Because of the LLM from London, I have had many opportunities to teach in Europe. I have been to Armenia and Hungary on Fulbrights and have also taught in the Baltics, Russia, Slovakia, and Finland. Because of my comparative knowledge of US, EU, and UK law, I am asked to teach classes or give talks that draw linkages across them. There is no question that the University of London degree has opened these opportunities. I hope that more doors will continue to open and that I will have additional chances to teach in Europe. Maybe someday I will even get an invitation from the University of London to teach or give some lectures. I would really welcome that opportunity."

Three tips? Rule one, be self-disciplined and keep up on the readings. Try not to get behind but work at the steady pace to stay current with your studies. Second, take time to think about what you are studying. Reflection is critical to success. Finally, take time to enjoy what you do

If you could distil your vast experience of part-time study into three ‘top tips’, what would they be?

"Three tips? OK. Rule one, be self-disciplined and keep up on the readings. Try not to get behind but work at a steady pace to stay current with your studies. Second, take time to think about what you are studying. Reflection is critical to success. Finally, take time to enjoy what you do. Learning is fun and never forget that aspect of why you are studying with the University of London."

Biography
Professor David Schultz is the author/editor of 25 books and more than 80 articles on topics including election law, American politics, eminent domain, constitutional law, public policy, legal and political theory, and the media and politics. David is a former host of "Minnesota Matters," on Air America Minnesota Radio, and he is a nationally recognised expert on political ethics, money and politics, political participation, and land use law. He has been a frequent commentator on television, radio, and in over 100 domestic and international newspapers and periodicals, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Today Show (NBC), CBS News, Time, Newsweek, La Nouvelle Observateur, L'Express and the Chicago Tribune.

David’s latest book is the revised edition of the two-volume Encyclopedia of American Law & Criminal Justice (Facts on File, Inc. 2012). He blogs at http://schultzstake.blogspot.com/

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