Lilly Goren '87

Lilly Goren '87 goes from student to colleague to friend in three easy steps

A couple of key mentors is all it takes to set a person on the right path. Lilly J. Goren '87 has been blessed with two of the best: her mom, Sally Goren, and Kenyon Professor of Political Science Pamela Jensen.

"My mom is retiring this year as professor of social work at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago" says Goren. "At the beginning of each semester I've been teaching, she has called me and said, `Professor Goren, this is Professor Goren calling to wish you a successful semester.' She has always encouraged me and set a wonderful example for me. It has meant so much."

During her years as a student at the College, Goren came under the influence and guidance of Jensen. "Professor Jensen nurtured my intellectual curiosity and has always pointed me in good directions," says Goren. "It was she who encouraged me to apply for the Bradley Fellowship I now hold at Kenyon."

A political science and English major, Goren went to work as an editorial assistant for the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., after graduation. "It was a job that Professor Jensen and Professor [Fred] Baumann knew about and encouraged me to apply for," says Goren. "I knew that eventually I wanted to go to graduate school and study political science, but I needed this break." The institute was sponsoring the National Peace Essay Contest for high-school students, and Goren was hired to read and evaluate these essays. A relatively young organization (Goren was the fourteenth person hired), the institute serves an educational purpose and as an entryway for non-governmental organizations in developing nations to connect to U.S. agencies.

After two years, Goren was ready to tackle graduate school, and she enrolled in the program at Boston College after consulting with her college mentor, Jensen. "Boston College, where I earned both my M.A. and Ph.D., turned out to be a wonderful choice," says Goren. "Surrounded by other fine institutions, such as Brandeis, Harvard, and M.I.T., there was no shortage of intellectual stimulation."

After completing her comprehensive examinations in 1992, Goren held fellowships, did some work as a research assistant, and taught as an adjunct at the University of New Hampshire while she worked on her doctoral dissertation. She then moved to Tampa, Florida, to become assistant professor of political science at the University of South Florida.

"I learned a lot teaching in Florida," says Goren, "but the climate there did me in. I just can't tolerate the fierce heat for eight months a year, and I was really happy to return to Kenyon and a more temperate climate."

"I'm delighted that Lilly has returned to campus," says Jensen. "For one thing, she's always had a lively and insightful interest in politics, and, with her background in Washington and her expertise on Congress, she can now give me no end of political advice. Lilly's reputation as a fine teacher had already made its way down from Boston and up from Florida. It's very exciting to watch someone you've known as a wonderful student become so comfortable on the other side of the desk. From student, to friend, to colleague in three easy steps--that's how I understand the course of our relationship, and I'm most grateful to be able to deepen a friendship I've already treasured for a decade."

At the College, Goren is putting the finishing touches on her dissertation while teaching "Quest for Justice," the department's introductory course. "It's a bit different from the kind of teaching I did in Florida," says Goren. There, in a course called "The Politics of Literature," she was able to choose the books to be explored. "Because of my love for Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, those were the texts I used," says Goren. "But one of my colleagues, teaching the same course, chose books like The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It was amazing to us both that we discussed in our classes so many of the same underlying issues arrived at from radically different literary genres."

Goren's research interest is in the executive branch of government and the forces that come to bear on it. She has examined such issues as the growth of regulation and the globalization of the economy as they impact the executive branch. Her focus in her dissertation is on congressional responsibility, or irresponsibility, in making dedistributive decisions with regard to military base closings. "I've long had an interest in defense policy," says Goren. "It's not an area studied very often by women, but I think it's important to bring a feminist perspective to the issues." She studies blame avoidance practiced by Congress, as evidenced in the formation of the Base Realignment and Closing Commission (BRACC). "There, you had a situation," she explains, "where the Pentagon wanted the closings and Congress agreed but was too frightened to authorize something that had the potential for great impact within individual districts. The creation of BRACC was a way to avoid responsibility, and hence blame, for the outcome."

While Goren is pursuing her career as a political-science scholar and teacher, she is mindful of her mother's observation that she "has a social worker's heart." Maybe it's the mentor in her anticipating the students she will influence along the way.


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