Jay M. Parker posted on April 18, 2014 13:38
Dr. Patricia Ann Weitsman, Professor of Political Science and Director of War and Peace Studies at Ohio University, died on March 30 after a long and difficult illness. She was 49.
Patty began academic life early as the daughter of a professor. She decided to major in international relations while a teenager visiting Israel, after witnessing a rocket attack on a nearby village. After graduating from Indiana University, she began doctoral studies in political science at Columbia University, and completed a fellowship at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.
She joined the political science faculty at Ohio University in January 1994 where she quickly earned a reputation as a dynamic and effective teacher. She was named the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher in 1997. Students selected her for University Professor honors in 1997-98, and again in 2000-01. In 2008, the Graduate Student Senate at OU chose Patty as recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award and speaker at the 2009 graduate commencement.
In addition to her teaching achievements, she authored Dangerous Alliances: Proponents of Peace, Weapons of War
(Stanford University Press, 2004), Waging War: Alliances, Coalitions, and Institutions of Interstate Violence
(Stanford University Press, 2014) and co-authored and edited works on U.S. foreign and defense policymaking, sexual violence and identity in war, democratic peace theory, security studies, and European regional integration.
Patty initiated, developed, and directed an interdisciplinary War and Peace Studies major and graduate certificate program as part of Ohio University's Center for International Studies. In 2009, she was elected Vice Chair and Chair Elect of the International Security Studies Section of the International Studies Association. She served as Chair of ISSS from 2011-2013. During her tenure, the section became the largest in ISA. While Chair, she proposed and developed a new journal on international security studies.
Patty was first diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a rare blood disorder, in November 2010. She underwent a painful and complex bone marrow transplant that first required a worldwide search for a donor match. After a year of difficult treatments, she was declared in remission and began the long process of rebuilding her immune system and restoring her health.
Patty remained in touch with students and colleagues while under constant, exhausting treatment. As soon as she was able, she returned to teaching and her active research agenda, and increased her role in the International Security Studies Section. She even resumed teaching exercises classes at the Lancaster, Ohio YMCA where she and her family were named Y Family Members of the Year in 2011 and where she received the 2012 Character Development Award.
A blood test in May 2013 revealed that the disease had returned as Leukemia. While undergoing another series treatments and medical trials, she completing the final edits on her book, Waging War
, which was released just before the New Year. Despite aggressive medical treatment and her determined fight, her health began to decline significantly in early March.
On the evening of March 28th--at her insistence--colleagues called Patty by Skype from the annual ISA Conference in Toronto. She had been emailing and calling until just before the conference to ensure that approval of the new journal was still on track. When told that the ISA Governing Council had given the final OK, she smiled and gave two thumbs up. When the journal's first edition is published next spring, it will be dedicated to its founder and champion.
On April 6th, an overflow crowd--hundreds of friends, colleagues, students from across the country--gathered for a memorial service; remembering Patty as an award winning teacher, an accomplished scholar, an active member of her community, an innovative and dynamic leader in the discipline of international relations, a selfless friend, and a devoted wife and mother.
Throughout her long battle, she never surrendered to self-pity or anger. Her concern was always for others. At her memorial service, a colleague diagnosed with cancer shortly after she became ill spoke of how she focused attention on helping and encouraging him, even as her struggle became more difficult.
Patty is survived by her husband David Hoffman, her children Sarah (12) and Jonah (10), her three sisters, her parents, and many, many students, colleagues, and friends. Patty's family has asked that gifts be made to the Ohio University Foundation (Ohio.edu/Give) for the Patricia A. Weitsman Memorial Scholarship, which will provide funds to students majoring in War and Peace Studies at Ohio University.