L. Marvin Overby, Ph.D.

Director, School of Public Affairs
Olmsted Building, W153

Marvin Overby joined the faculty of PSU-Harrisburg in January 2020 as professor of political science and director of the School of Public Affairs.

A native of Fredericksburg, VA, Overby earned his bachelor’s degree at Davidson College and his Ph.D. at the University of Oklahoma, where he was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center.  Between undergraduate and graduate school, he served as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow in Brussels, Strasbourg, Dublin, and Belfast.

Prior to joining the Penn State community, Overby held faculty positions at Loyola University Chicago (1990-1993), the University of Mississippi (1993-2002), and the University of Missouri (2002-2019).  At Ole Miss, he was a founding co-director of the Social Science Research Laboratory (SSRL); at Mizzou, he served as interim department chair, as core faculty in the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy, and as chair of the university system’s Research Board.  In addition, he has served as Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Hungary (2000-2001), as Fei Yi-ming Visiting Professor of Comparative Politics at the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies (1997-1998, 2005-2006), and as Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress’s John W. Kluge Center (2018-2019).

A scholar with broad-ranging interests in American and comparative politics, Overby’s publications include the co-authored book Cobblestone Leadership: Majority Rule, Minority Power with noted historian James MacGregor Burns as well as some four dozen articles in leading journals such as the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Polity, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Political Studies, Social Science Quarterly, Journal of Legislative Studies, Party Politics, Mass Communication and Society, American Politics Research, and State Politics and Policy Quarterly. Overby’s current and recent research projects include legislative retirements (in the U. S. Congress as well as other legislatures), the process of constitutional amendment, various legislative procedures (including the filibuster in the Senate), public attitudes toward homosexuality, and the importance of legislative parties.  He is also currently co-authoring a book on the most important congressional elections in American history.

In addition to helping secure more than $1 million in grants and contracts for the University of Mississippi’s SSRL, his research has been supported by the Library of Congress, the University of Oklahoma’s Carl Albert Center, the Kinder Institute at the University of Missouri, the Dirksen Congressional Center, the Government of Canada, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

An award winning teacher, Overby was recognized by the University of Mississippi for excellence in the teaching of first year students, and by the University of Missouri for leadership in international education, undergraduate mentoring, and graduate teaching excellence.

Overby’s research and analysis have been featured in various media outlets, including Time, NPR, The Washington Post, the BBC, The New York Times, ESPN’s Grantland, The San Francisco Chronicle, The National Journal, The Kansas City Star, Ouest-France, Newsy, PolitiFact, The London School of Economics “American Politics and Policy” blog, and LSE’s “British Politics and Policy” blog.