• An expert on the American presidency.
  • Teaching my students to write clearly.
  • Readily available to my students.
  • A former Oregon Professor of the Year.
  • The author or editor of 15 books.

Professor Richard Ellis is a noted scholar on the American presidency.


Ellis earned an Oregon Professor of the Year Award for his work with students in the classroom.

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Dedicated to Teaching

Professor Richard Ellis is noted nationally for his scholarship, but he prefers to be known for his work in the classroom.

Politics Professor Richard Ellis has written or co-edited 15 books and numerous journal articles on the American presidency and American political culture, and he is frequently quoted in national and regional media for his expertise.

But if you ask him to discuss his research, he would rather steer the conversation towards teaching.

"I believe that the most enduring contribution I can make to the education and lives of my students is to teach them to think critically and to write clearly," he says. "I teach at a small liberal arts college because only in small classes can I devote the intensive, individualized attention that is necessary to instill in students an appreciation for clear and concise prose."

A Noted Mentor

Ellis' students laud his classroom style and willingness to mentor others. In fact, these characteristics garnered him the 2008 Oregon Professor of the Year Award.

Alexis Walker '06 says Ellis "has gone out of his way to be there for me and countless other students, not because he has to, but because he genuinely cares."

"It's a running joke among his students about how quickly he responds to email, almost as if he can telepathically sense he has a message in his inbox," she says. "I am embarrassed to admit I never knew Professor Ellis' office hours because he was always available and kept his door open, inviting students in."

Walker is one of many students who have worked one-on-one with Ellis to assist with his scholarly work while simultaneously learning how to write and research.

In the acknowledgement pages of five books, Ellis thanks 33 Willamette students who worked as research assistants on those projects.

A Prolific Researcher

Ellis' books and other scholarship have also garnered him quite a bit of attention.

His book To the Flag: The Unlikely History of the Pledge of Allegiance was featured on National Public Radio's "Fresh Air" and received the Langum Prize in Legal History.

His latest book, Presidential Travel: The Journey from George Washington to George W. Bush, came out during the height of the 2008 election season and had reporters nationwide calling to discuss the history of presidents on the road.

A strong research and publishing record won Ellis the 2007 Oregon Outstanding Researcher of the Year award from the Oregon Academy of Science.

"Ellis' students are clearly lucky to share his insight and experience," says Jeff Myers, the academy's former president, "and Willamette University is equally fortunate to have Ellis as a colleague."

About Richard Ellis

  • PhD, University of California, Berkeley
  • Course topics include American politics and the presidency, the initiative and referendum process, and patriotism
  • Research interests include the American presidency and American political culture
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