Alumni Recognize Professor’s Influence

Barbara Chotiner
Barbara Chotiner speaks at a retirement reception hosted in her honor.

From the August 2014 Desktop News | Decades after they were taught by political science Professor Barbara Chotiner, alumni still attest to her influence on their lives and careers.

During Chotiner’s retirement reception June 18 at The University of Alabama President’s Mansion, faculty members in the department read excerpts from letters from former students who, even 30 years later, said they remembered and were still influenced by Chotiner’s teachings. Chotiner said the letters were very humbling and a great honor to receive.

“I am so proud of my students’ and advisees’ many accomplishments,” Chotiner said. “It meant so much to me to know what they are doing now and about the ways in which their lives have evolved. I have had the pleasure of teaching so many young men and women who brought their own intellectual creativity and analytical independence to class discussions and assignments. Many alumni today are public servants or engaged in professions that contribute to public welfare or helping others. Watching individuals develop their talents and pursue their goals has been one of the great satisfactions of teaching.”

Chotiner joined the UA faculty in 1978 as an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science. She became a full professor in 1995 and served for several years as director of undergraduate studies and as an undergraduate advisor in her department. Before coming to the University of Alabama, she taught at Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia, and was on the research staff of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

During her retirement reception, she presented a lecture on the modern-day implications of her research, which focuses on the sources and processes of institutional and policy change in the politics of the former Soviet Union. The lecture, titled “Ukrainian Politics 2014,” was Chotiner’s attempt to provide information about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and interpret a political situation of major import in international relations today.

“I hoped to show that recurrent efforts to bring about democratization in Ukraine are intertwined with both the domestic conflict and Russian support for separatists,” she said.

Chotiner received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Wellesley College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and a Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy from Columbia University, where she studied comparative politics with an emphasis on the Soviet Union and East Central Europe.

While at UA, her teaching and mentorship earned her the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award from The University of Alabama National Alumni Association, the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Commitment to Students Award, and the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Fellowship. She will retire Sept. 1.

Chotiner can be reached at