Portrait of Timothy Kaufman-Osborn

Baker Ferguson Professor of Politics and Leadership Emeritus


Timothy Kaufman-Osborn (TK-O) was awarded a B.A. degree from Oberlin College in 1976; a M.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1977; and a Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1982. Joining the faculty of Whitman College in 1982, he was appointed to the position of Baker Ferguson Professor of Politics and Leadership in 1996. He has also served as a visiting scholar at Princeton University, Doshisha University (Kyoto, Japan), the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

Kaufman-Osborn is the author of numerous articles and several books on topics including torture and the death penalty (From Noose to Needle: Capital Punishment and the Late Liberal State); feminist theory (Creatures of Prometheus: Gender and the Politics of Technology); the political theory of American pragmatism (Politics/Sense/Experience: A Pragmatic Inquiry into the Promise of Democracy); the discipline of political science; and, more recently, the governance of institutions of higher education. 

Kaufman-Osborn’s professional and political work has included two terms as president of the Western Political Science Association, and he has served on the executive councils of the American Political Science Association and the Pacific Northwest Political Science Association. He has been a member of the editorial boards of The American Political Science Review, Perspectives on Politics, Political Research Quarterly, and Politics & Gender (for which he also served as book review editor). For fifteen years, Kaufman-Osborn served on the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and for four years as that body’s president. At Whitman, he recently participated in re-founding the College’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors and served as a member of its executive committee. 

In addition to holding the positions of department chair, chair of the division of social sciences, and chair of the faculty, for six years, Kaufman-Osborn served as Whitman’s provost and dean of the faculty. TK-O retired in 2019, and now holds the title of Baker Ferguson Professor of Politics and Leadership Emeritus.