Richard J. Powell

John Mitchell Nickerson Professor of Political Science & Director of the Cohen Institute for Leadership & Public Service
PhD, MA, Northwestern University
BA, Connecticut College
243 Boudreau Hall
(207) 581-1795

Richard J. Powell is the John Mitchell Nickerson Professor of Political Science and Founding Director of the William S. Cohen Institute for Leadership & Public Service. In 2020, he was named the Distinguished Maine Professor, UMaine’s most prestigious faculty award.

His research and teaching interests include the U.S. Presidency, Congress, Leadership, Elections, and American Political Thought. He also oversees the UMaine Congressional Internship Program, the Kenneth Palmer Maine State Legislative Internship Program, and UMaine’s interdisciplinary minor in Leadership Studies.

Professor Powell is the author of numerous books, journal articles, and book chapters on presidential-congressional relations, presidential communications, presidential and congressional elections, and state politics. He co-authored The 2016 Presidential Election: The Causes and Consequences of a Political Earthquake (Lexington Books, 2017), The 2012 Presidential Election: Forecasts, Outcomes, and Consequences (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), Legislating Without Experience: Case Studies in State Legislative Term Limits (Lexington Books, 2007), and Changing Members: The Maine Legislature in the Era of Term Limits (Lexington Books, 2004). His current research utilizes advanced computer algorithms to create realistic, simulated congressional districts as a way to study the spatial and demographic aspects of partisan gerrymandering.

Dr. Powell is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach who specializes in developing high-performance teams, as well as individual Strengths coaching.

In 2010 he was a Fulbright Lecturer at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China (one of the top five universities in China), where he taught graduate-level courses on American elections and political institutions. He has also lectured at some of China’s top universities including Tsinghua University (Beijing), Fudan University (Shanghai), Sichuan University (Chengdu), Northwest University (Xi’an), and Xi’an International Studies University (Xi’an).

He is a past recipient of the Founder’s Award from the PRG of the American Political Science Association for his research on presidential speechmaking and travel. He has been a frequent commentator in the local and national media, and had been interviewed by a number of major news outlets including the Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Newsweek. His work has been featured on Nate Silver’s He has served on the executive councils of the American Political Science Association’s Presidency Research Group and the New England Political Science Association, and is a past editor of the Presidency Research Group Report.

Professor Powell joined the University of Maine faculty in 2001. Prior to coming to the University of Maine, he taught at Hamilton College (where he directed the Semester in Washington DC Program). He has also held visiting faculty appointments at Colby College (Maine) and Beloit College (Wisconsin).

He grew up in suburban Detroit (Michigan), where he graduated from Cranbrook Kingswood School. He and his wife are the parents of three grown children. His personal interests include golf, hockey, photography, genealogy, travel, and jazz music.

Professor Powell’s Fall 2020 Convocation Address