Kolson, Ken

I remember my first two years at Allegheny with a sense of regret, in as much as I did everything I could to resist being educated, and that turned out to be quite a lot. Addiss and Crofut were favorite entertainers. I joined a fraternity, Theta Chi, where I served as assistant rush chairman, and then as rush chairman in my sophomore year. My big brother was Gary Mott, ’66, now deceased. I was close to Bill Stoeckert, a friendship that has been rekindled in recent years. I was a political science major, and I have fond memories of certain teachers, mainly John Kessel and the late George Cole, who visited me in Finland 40 years after my graduation from Allegheny; now there was a man who had a gift for friendship. While working at the National Endowment for the Humanities in the ‘90s, I was a colleague and friend of the estimable Steve Ross, ‘64. As an Alleghenian, I have enjoyed on-going friendships with a handful of famous political scientists, including Morris Fiorina, ’68, and John Aldrich, ’69, and a number of fraternity brothers who reside in the D.C. area, with whom I enjoy taking in the occasional Nats game. I recently joined a book group whose membership includes two of those Alleghenians: George Clack, ’68, and Bill Penniman, ’70.

Education after Allegheny

M.A. University of Kentucky, 1969
Ph.D., University of Kentucky, 1972
In addition, I spent a summer at the Inter-University Consortium for Political Research, University of Michigan, 1969.


At the beginning of my junior year, I met a first-year student during orientation week. Her name was Jane Barnhart, and I was smitten. I married Jane a few days after her graduation from Allegheny in 1969, and a few days before her 22nd birthday. After the wedding, we hitched a U-Haul trailer containing everything we owned to my 1961 Chrysler and pointed it in the direction of Ann Arbor, Michigan, where we had our honeymoon and, later that summer, watched Neil Armstrong take humankind’s first steps on the surface of the moon. By June of 2017, we will have been married for 48 years.

Where we’ve lived

We have owned homes in Hiram, OH; Shaker Heights, OH; Springfield, VA; and Alexandria, VA.  

My jobs

1970-1985, faculty member, political science department, Hiram College.
1985-2006, Deputy Director, Research; National Endowment for the Humanities.
2006, Fulbright scholar, University of Oulu, Finland.
2014, Fulbright scholar, Šiauliai University, Lithuania.
2008-2014, Director, Washington Academic Internship Program, John Glenn School of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University.
2016- Vice President of Policy and Programs, American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

This is my chance to salute my lovely wife, who has been employed as a non-profit development officer throughout, at times taking on the lead breadwinner role.

Our children / grandchildren

Amanda Jane Kolson, born 1976, Chardon, OH; married Lawrence Hurley, April 6, 2001; gave birth to Nicholas Brendan Hurley, January 5, 2006, in Baltimore, MD.

Theodore Choi Kolson, born 1987, Ulsan, Korea; adopted August 26, 1987.


So far I haven’t been able to make retirement work, though I plan to give it another chance soon.

Current activities / hobbies

I am an urbanist, and author of a book called Big Plans: The Allure and Folly of Urban Design (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001). I am a voracious, albeit deliberate, reader and an avid baseball (Cleveland Indians) fan. I enjoy almost every kind of music, particularly bluegrass and classical. I relish international travel, and even travel planning. I have no real hobbies, which is probably why I have had issues with retirement.

My contact Info

Address:  601 Fontaine Street, Alexandria, VA 22302
Phone:  703-785-7699. This is my cell phone; we don’t have a land line.


Partying on the Viking-Danube

Partying on the Viking-Danube

With my two heroes, John & Annie Glenn

With my two heroes, John & Annie Glenn




Freshman Book

Freshman Book

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