POLS 308: The American Chief Executive Syllabus

Northern Illinois University

DeKalb, IL 60115

(815) 753-1015

http://www.niu.edu/, http://polisci.niu.edu/


Course Title:  The American Chief Executive

Course Number: POLS 308, Section 1

Class Location: DuSable Building, Room 246

Semester: Spring, 2011


I. Faculty Information

            a. Instructor:  Geoff Rogal (grogal@niu.edu)

            b. Office Location:  DuSable 476

            c. Office Hours: Wednesday: 3:00- 6:00 p.m. Also, By Appointment

            d. Mailbox Location: Zulauf 415, Outside of Departmental Office

e. Department Phone #: (815) 753-1015 (leave a message with one of the       

administrative assistants at the Political Science Department).


II. Course Identification:

            a.   Credit Hours: 3

            b.   Total Credit Hours: 3

            c.   Days and Hours Course Meets: Wednesday: 6:00- 8:40 p.m. (1/19/11-5/11/11)

            d.   Prerequisite:  At least sophomore standing or consent of department. A                                                previous course in American politics (POLS 100, 150) is highly recommended.

            e.   Corequisite: None

            f.    Course Description:

Within this course, we will explore the philosophical and constitutional origins of the American Chief Executive and the evolution of the office to gain a greater understanding for the role the President occupies in modern American politics.  To this end, theoretical, historical, legal, institutional and psychological approaches will be used to examine the Presidency and those individuals who have served the office. Special attention will be given to the institutional Presidency and its relationship with Congress and the Supreme Court, as well as the influence public opinion and the media have on the office.  Finally, the philosophical and theoretical foundations of Presidential leadership, ethics, and decision-making and their influences on public policy will be explored.


III. Textbooks/Reading List:

            a. Required

1. Kernell, Samuel. 2007.  Going Public: New Strategies of Presidential

Leadership. Fourth Edition. Washington, DC: CQ Press.


2. Milkis, Sidney and Michael Nelson. 2008. The American Presidency: Origins   and Development. 5th Edition. Washington: CQ Press.


3. Neustadt, Richard E. 1990. Presidential Power and the Modern

Presidents. New York: The Free Press.


4. Pika, Joseph and John Maltese.  2010.  The Politics of the Presidency. 

Seventh Edition (Revised). Washington, DC: CQ Press.     


Additional handouts and required readings listed below may be accessed via web addresses, Blackboard or through NIU’s electronic reserves.  It is your responsibility to read these articles before attending class.


IV. Program/Course Goals or Major Purposes:

            a.   To think critically

            b.   To understand the origin, powers and structure of the Executive Branch.

            c.   To gain a better understanding of the selection, tenure, succession, and                                                  leadership of the American chief executive in the policy, administrative, and   

                   legislative processes of American government.  

            d.   To understand the concept of separation of powers.

            e.   To better understand the United States Constitution.

            f.    To understand the role of the President in formulating and implementing the    

                  annual federal budget.

            g.   To investigate the influence special interest groups, the media and public                                              opinion have on the President.   

            h.   To understand the history and role of the federal bureaucracy in the American

                   political process.

            i.    To understand the relationship between the President, Congress and the

                  Supreme Court.

            j.    To gain a better understanding of Presidential War Powers.

            k.  To investigate the role Presidential leadership and decision making have on 

                  public policy formulation and implementation.


V. Classroom Policies/Procedures, i.e. The Rules of the Game

a.    Any student who fails to complete ALL of the following assignments will not

pass this course!


            b. Withdrawal Policy:

If you do not attend the first class ses­sion and have not contacted me by e-mail, phone or mail, you may be dropped from this course to accommodate students who wish to enroll.  Furthermore, a student who does not withdraw prior to the withdraw date will receive a grade of ‘F', which will become a part of the student's permanent record.  Please note the withdraw date in the NIU Academic Calendar.


            c. Final Exam Date:

                        Final Exam: Wednesday, May 11, 2011, 6:00-7:50 p.m.



d. Turn off cell phones, pagers, Droids and Blackberries before the start of all classes.  

Also, do not text message during class.  This is just disrespectful. I don’t mind if   you bring a laptop as long as it is used for class purposes, not surfing the web.


e. Be considerate of your classmates.


f. Attendance Policy:

From past teaching experiences, I have amassed substantial empirical evidence suggesting a student who attends class on a regular basis is more likely to perform at a higher level during course evaluations (examinations, papers, class participation) than a student who is frequently tardy or absent from scheduled classes. So, come to class! As this class meets only once a week, attendance and participation are vital to be successful on the aforementioned paper and examinations.  Therefore, each student will be allowed one absence (except for examination dates) before a letter grade will be deducted from his or her final grade (A final grade of “A” with 2 absences will become a “B”; with 3 absences the final grade will become a “C” etc…)

Moreover, you, or somebody else, are/is paying for this opportunity to gain knowledge—Take advantage of it!   

Once again, please attend class.  The examinations will consist of lecture materials and information absorbed, comprehended and otherwise discerned from assigned readings.  However, I understand a class may be missed, skipped or “blown off” on occasion.  It is your responsibility to acquire the missed class material. Please, do not ask me for lecture notes or missed materials. If a class is missed, ask a fellow student for the lecture notes. You might have to wash his\her car, but the reward of increased knowledge is worth it!!!


VI. Grading Policies/Procedures:

a.       There will be two (2) examinations: one (1) midterm examination and one (1) final examination. Each examination will be worth 100 points. You will be tested on the required readings from the textbooks, websites and handouts, as well as the information presented during class lectures. The examinations will consist of multiple choice, matching, short answer and essay questions. The final examination will not be cumulative.


b.      Additionally, you will be required to complete a research paper. The research paper will explore some aspect of the American Presidency. Your grade will be determined by your ability to compose a well-written, legible, grammatically correct research paper (minimum 7 pages in length with 5 cited scholarly sources, double-spaced, spell-checked and typed). The paper will be evaluated according to the quality (support for the thesis, spelling, grammar, sentence structure, organization) of the information presented. The expectations for the paper will be discussed in detail during the second week of class.  The final paper will be due no later than April 27, 2011. No exceptions! However, papers may be submitted prior to 4/27/11. The research paper is worth 80 points.  A copy of the research paper will be uploaded to Safe Assign.  If it is not, no credit will be earned for the research paper.

To assure you are actively researching your chosen paper topic, I will have you submit an abstract to me in hard copy by February 9, 2011 stating your thesis and providing an annotated bibliography including 4 sources (basically, cite each source and provide 3-4 sentences explaining why the book or journal article is relevant to your research topic).  This will be worth 20 points.


c.       The final grade will be based upon your performance on and successful completion of the aforementioned examinations, activities and research paper.


d.   The individual assignments will comprise the following percentages of your  

      final grade:


                  Midterm Examination :           100 points       (25%)

                  Final Examination:                  100 points       (25%)

                  Research Paper Abstract           20 points       (05%)

                  Research Paper:                         80 points       (20%)

                  Attendance:                              50 points       (12.5%)

                  Participation:                             50 points       (12.5%)

                                                      Total:   400 points       100%


e.   The grading scale will be as follows:

                                    360-400 points =A

                                    320-359 points =B

                                    280-319 points =C

                                    240-279 points =D

                                    239 or below   =F      


            f.    No extra credit will be awarded.

g.    No late papers will be accepted.

h.    Make-up exams and incompletes will be allowed only with the PRIOR  

       approval of the instructor. 


i.    Cheating, Plagiarism and Student Conduct:

                        Academic misconduct is an act in which a student: (a) seeks to claim credit for the                        work or efforts of another without authorization or citation; (b) uses unauthorized                                     materials or fabricated data in any academic exercise; (c) forges or falsifies                                     academic documents or records; (d) intentionally impedes or damages the                                          academic work of others; (e) engages in conduct aimed at making false                                                representation of a student’s academic performance; or (f) assists other students in               any of these acts.  The above acts are subject to disciplinary action.                        


                        Furthermore, respect for human dignity is essential to an appropriate university                              environment.  Thus, sexual harassment of students and employees is                                               impermissible and unprofessional conduct and will not be tolerated.  Conduct                                determined to fall within the definition of sexual harassment will be subject to                          disciplinary action in accordance with applicable due process requirements,                              including, but not limited to, reprimand, temporary suspension, expulsion, or                                discharge of the harassing individual.


If found cheating on an exam, the student(s) will receive a grade of zero for that exam.  If plagiarism occurs, the student(s) will also receive a zero for that paper, activity or project.  Northern Illinois permits the instructor to withdraw the student(s) from the course if found plagiarizing or cheating on an assignment, paper or examination.  I will not hesitate in doing so in the aforementioned cases. Each student is responsible for adhering to the code of Student Conduct as stated in the NIU Undergraduate Student Catalogue.


k. How to succeed in this course:

                        Complete the assigned readings prior to class sessions

                        Take notes in class during lecture

                        Attend and bring your book(s) to class.

                        Study for quizzes and exams. 

                        Come to my office hours if you do not understand the material or if you wish to                                        discuss the material in greater depth. 

                        Take all quizzes and exams. 

                        Turn in writing assignments on time.             


l. Rubric for class participation:


Grade of A = Exceeds expectations   

           This student:

1)      Consistently raises questions and makes comments that illustrate complete to near-complete mastery of course concepts. 

2)      Consistently uses course materials to answer questions raised by professor and colleagues.

3)      Completes all in-class/take-home assignments

4)      Makes links between current and past course material and concepts. 

5)      Shows consistent evidence of reading and comprehending course material prior to class meeting.

6)      Holds an exceptional record of attendance (i.e. misses no more than one class meeting).

                        Grade of B = Meets expectation  

            This student:

1)      Consistently raises questions and makes comments that illustrate partial mastery of course concepts

2)      Completes all in-class or take-home assignments

3)      Sometimes uses course material to answer questions raised by professor and colleagues

4)      Shows consistent evidence of reading course materials prior to class meeting

5)      Holds a good record of attendance (i.e. misses no more than two class meetings).              

                        Grade of C = Comes close to meeting expectations

            This student:

1)      Raises questions and makes comments that illustrate partial mastery of course concepts but inconsistently and with less frequency.

2)      Completes most in-class or take-home assignments

3)      Shows consistent evidence of reading course materials prior to class meeting.

4)      Holds a good record of attendance (i.e. misses no more than three class meetings). 

                        Grade of D = Does not meet expectations

            This student:

1)      Rarely raises questions or makes comments that illustrate mastery of course concepts.

2)      Makes comments but that do not clearly relate to course materials

3)      Completes some in-class or take-home assignments

4)      Shows inconsistent evidence of reading course materials prior to class meetings.

5)      Holds an average record of attendance (i.e. misses more than four class meetings).

                        Grade of F = Far from meeting expectations  

            This student:

1)      Does not raise questions or make comments that illustrate mastery of course concepts.

2)      Shows little or no evidence of reading course materials prior to class meetings

3)      Completes few in-class or take-home assignments

                        4)   Holds a below-average record of attendance (i.e. misses more than                                            four class meetings). 

m. Paper Rubric:

            A/A– Paper offers a clearly stated, interesting thesis which is supported with

            valid and sound arguments. The paper shows that the writer has thought

            about the assignment and developed his or her own ideas about it,

            instead of just offering minimal responses to the different components

            of the assignment. Interpretations of theories are sophisticated and

            supported with textual evidence; more than one source is considered.

            Writing is between good and brilliant: the organization of the paper is

            clear, prose is good and grammar flawless.


            B/B+ Paper offers a clearly stated thesis which is supported with for the most

            part valid and sound arguments. The paper stays on topic, considering

            all the relevant aspects of the assignment. Interpretations of theories are

            plausible and supported with textual evidence; more than one source is

            considered. Writing, including outline and grammar, is solid.




B– Paper offers a thesis and attempts to support it with arguments.

            However, the thesis is simplistic and/or the arguments weak or

            unconnected to the thesis. Interpretations are weak or problematic,

            textual evidence minimal or weak. Paper only uses one textual source.

            Writing and organization have problems that affect readability.


            C/C+ Paper offers a minimal thesis and minimal or no arguments in its

            support. Interpretations thoroughly misguided and/or unsupported

            with any evidence. Writing — both at the level or paper organization

            and grammar — seriously problematic.


            D+/C– No thesis, no arguments or no textual evidence. Organization

            incoherent, writing very awkward and unintelligible.


            D No thesis, no arguments, no evidence. Writer has no conception of

            most rudimentary aspects of writing (paragraphs, outline).


            F The paper displays a fundamental lack of understanding of the

            principles that guide scholarly endeavors. Examples include but aren’t

            limited to gross mistakes in citing source materials as well as significant

            errors in framing the paper (e.g., writing a short story instead of an



VII. Students With Disabilities:

NIU abides by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that mandates reasonable accommodations for qualified students with disabilities.  If you have a disability and may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodation, please tell me early in the semester so I can help you attain the needed assistance.  You will need to register with the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR), the designated office on campus to provide services for students with disabilities.  The CAAR office is located on the 4th Floor of the University Health Services Building (telephone #: 815-753-1303). 


VIII.   Student Athletes

            Student athletes should submit the official NIU Student-Athlete Academic Support          Services (SAASS) form to me as soon as possible. Failure to do so will result in            unsatisfactory reports when academic progress is requested from the NIU         Associate         Director of Athletics.










IX. Course Schedule/Calendar:

 Spring 2011 Semester Course Outline and Required Reading Assignments

(Assigned Readings and Examinations May Change At the Discretion of Instructor. If so, I will inform the class prior to the change(s). 


Week/Date:                                         Required Readings


Part I: The Origins and Evolution of the Presidency


First Week                              

January 19:                              Introduction, distribute syllabi and other necessary stuff

                                                Lecture: Approaches to Studying the Presidency

                                                Readings:  Pika, Chapter 1, pp. 12-31


Second Week                                     

January 26:                              Lecture: The Constitutional Convention and Creating                                                                          the Presidency

Readings: Milkis, Chapter 1, pp. 1-23, Chapter 2, pp. 26-63 (pay

special attention to pp. 60-62) and Pika, pp. 1-11.

Article, Roche; “The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus

In Action” Blackboard

Handouts: Debate of the Constitutional Convention and Checks

and Balances Blackboard (review)    

Federalist Papers #s 47, 48 and 51 can be accessed via:

http://www.conservativetruth.org/library/fed47.html (Paragraphs 1-3)


http://www.conservativetruth.org/library/fed51.html (review)


Third Week    

February 2:                              Lecture: The Pre-modern Presidency and Sources of                                                                            Constitutional Ambiguities  

Readings: Milkis, Chapter 3, pp. 68-93, Chapter 4, pp. 97-114 (George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson), Chapter 16, pp. 451-461 (Vice President) and  Pacificus/Helvidius Debates, Access from the  website:



Fourth Week                          

February 9:                              Research Paper Abstract Due

Lecture: Jacksonian Democracy, Abraham Lincoln and Expanding Presidential Power

                                                Handout: (Elite versus Popular Democracy) Blackboard

                                                Readings: Milkis, Chapter 5, pp. 121-147, Chapter 6 (Abraham

Lincoln), pp. 151-170 and Chapter 7 (Reaction against Presidential Power), pp. 173-180     


Fifth Week                             

February 16:                            Lecture: The Rise of Executive Power, the Progressives and the End of the Progressive Era

                                                Readings: Milkis, Chapter 8, pp. 208-232, Chapter 9,                                                                        pp. 237-255 and Chapter10, pp. 258-277      


Part II: The Modern Presidency


Sixth Week

February 23:                            Lecture: The Modern Presidency, the Consolidation of Executive Power and the Executive Office of the President (EOP)

Readings: Milkis, Chapter 11, pp. 280-317 and Pika, Chapter 6, pp. 245-288


Seventh Week            

March 2:                                  Lecture: Economic Policy, the Evolution of the Presidential Selection Process and Elections

Readings: Pika, Chapter 9, pp. 368-411and Chapter 2, pp. 37-83,

Handouts: The Nomination Process & Electoral College



(I will schedule a review session for the midterm examination for those students interested)                                            


Eighth Week

March 9:                                  Midterm Examination


Ninth Week                            

March 13-20:                           Spring Break, No Classes!! 


Part III: Institutional Checks on the Executive Branch


Tenth Week                            

March 23:                                Lecture: The President, Congress and the Judiciary

                                                Readings: Pika, Chapter 5, pp. 200-237, Chapter 7, pp. 298-

328 and pp. 221-23 (The War Powers Act of 1973 and Signing Statements and Executive Orders)


Part IV: Executive Leadership in Domestic and Foreign Policy


Eleventh Week

March 30:                                Lecture: Presidential Decision Making: Domestic Policy and Foreign Policy

                                                Readings: Pika, Chapter 8, pp. 334-364, Chapter 10, pp.417-453.




Twelfth Week

April 6:                                    Lecture: Presidential Leadership in the Washington                                                                           Community

                                                Reading: Neustadt, Preface-p. 90


Part V: The President and the Public


Thirteenth Week

April 13:                                  Lecture: The President and the Public

Readings: Pika, Chapter 3, pp. 92-134 and Kernell, pp. 1-45 (Chapters 1 and 2)


Fourteenth Week:                  

April 20:                                  Lecture: Personalizing the Presidency: Kennedy-Carter

Readings: Milkis, Chapter 12, pp. 323-360 and Kernell, pp. 48-106 (Chapters 3 and 4)


Fifteenth Week

April 27:                                  Research Paper Due (Final Draft)!!!!!!!!

Lecture: A Restoration of the American Presidency? Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush

Readings: Milkis, Chapter 13, pp. 368-393 and Kernell, pp. 110-177 (Chapters 5 and 6)


Sixteenth Week                                  

May 4:                                     Lecture: Evaluating Presidential Performance and the Presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W Bush

Readings: Pika Chapter 4, pp. 143-190 and Milkis, Chapter 14, pp. 398-419, Chapter 15, pp. 423-447


 (I will schedule a review session to prepare for the final exam for those students interested)


Seventeenth Week                              Final Exam Week


May 11, 2011                         Final Examination

                                                Special Time: 6:00-7:50 pm, same location                                                           (This time is designated by the university)