Political science lecturer Dr. Rodney Anderson dies

Dr. Rodney Anderson, who taught a variety of political courses at Fresno State since 1996, died unexpectedly Tuesday, March 6. He was 46.

The announcement to campus was made by Dr. David Schecter, the department chair, who added that Dr. Anderson died “peacefully at his home.” The cause of death has not been announced.

Students were notified via email and Schecter began meeting with the classes to talk about Dr. Anderson’s death and to explain that the department is developing a plan to cover his classes. Schechter also advised the students that private, confidential counseling services are available through University Health and Psychological Services at the Student Health Center.

A native of Geneva, Neb., Dr. Anderson earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in 1988 and his doctorate at Ohio State University in 1994.

Schecter said Dr. Anderson taught 200 students in five classes every semester and was known for taking on a variety of classes and enjoying a wide range of interests. Among the subjects he taught were introductory American politics, statistics, political behavior and comparative politics.

He also was a volunteer mentor for students as part of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program.

“Dr. Anderson was caring, compassionate and dedicated,” Schecter said. “His students really meant the world to him. He was one of the most committed professional teachers I have ever met and we all will miss him very much.”

Schecter said students were emotional upon hearing the news. Sophomore political science major Narek Avetisyan, said he and his friends “were devastated.” Avetisyan said, ”He had an objective style of teaching, which gave us impartial information.”

“He was a man of great knowledge and kindness. He was a professional in class and a friend outside of class,” added Avetisyan. “He may be gone, but his personal and professional knowledge will remain with us.”

“It was obvious how passionate he was for his work,” said senior political science major Sarah Rin, who will graduate in May. “His presence in the classroom will be greatly missed.”

Schecter said Anderson’s other loves, apart from politics, were baseball and football. “He often attended the College World Series, loved the Ohio State Buckeyes, Fresno State Bulldogs and trivia games,” Schecter said.

“We express condolences to his family, friends, colleagues and students and ask that you keep them in your thoughts,” Schecter said in a message sent to the campus community.

The Rodney Anderson Memorial Scholarship has been established. Those wishing to donate in his memory, should write checks made out to California State University, Fresno Foundation, with a Rodney Anderson Memorial Scholarship notation, and send them to the College of Social Sciences, 5340 N. Campus Drive M/S SS91, Fresno, CA 93740-8019.

Information regarding a memorial will be forthcoming, he said.

Tom Uribes

written by

Public Affairs Specialist, University Communications
  • Aniemendoza2004

    I will miss Mr. Anderson very much. I am and have taken several classes taught by him throughout the tree years I have attended Fresno State. He was always willing to give me interviews when I was writing for The Collegian. I will always cherish the moments we spend together speaking about politics. I will always remember his smile and his bipartisan information. He will me missed. 

  • Aldo Salinas

    Dr. Anderson was by far the most responsible, efficient and intelligent professor I have had the privilege of meeting and learning from during my college career. He was genuinely kind and had a deep care for all of his students to learn and succeed.  He will be greatly missed. 

  • Heather Ruiz

    Heather Ruiz

    Political Science Major

    My first semester at Fresno State I had the opportunity of taking a
    class from a professor who made me feel comfortable to be at a new
    school. Dr. Anderson’s efficient teaching style and his professional
    attitude is a challenge in our field and he deserves the utmost respect
    for his efforts.

    I will never forget his kind
    smile and nerdy sense of humor, the small talk after class and the
    little laughs during. Most of all, I will never forget the lessons this
    wonderful person has taught me: never take anyone for granted, always
    reassure those you love that you love and respect them, and appreciate
    even the smallest encounters with those around you.

    Dr. Anderson, I hope you knew how many of your students respected
    you. There are so many of us who appreciated your work and the kindness
    you have shared.

    We miss you, and you will never be forgotten.

    Your student,

    Heather Ruiz

  • Pingback: FresnoStateNews.com | Memorial service for Dr. Anderson is March 19 on campus

  • jacobhall

    What very sad news, Dr. Anderson was one of my favorite professors at Fresno State. He presented the course material from an unbiased perspective, and discussions and debates would often spill out into the hallways or his office after class. He had an excellent memory of political scandals that aided understanding of the material and brought many laughs. While in most cases political science classes were dry and theorhetical, Dr. Anderson always spiced things up with interesting anecdotes, funny stories, and an eye for the practical political behaviors involved so that we could be better politicos and citizens.

  • Katie Johnson

    I had the pleasure of taking classes from Dr. Anderson as an undergrad in 2003. Dr. Anderson was a great teacher and he will be missed.

  • bam423

    I was taken aback when I learned of Dr. Anderson’s death. I had the good fortune to take three political science courses with him. Namely: Political Analysis, Congressional Politics, and Public Opinion and Voting  Behavior. He was a learned professor of American Politics and his erudition was ostensible. I always appreciated his breadth of expertise. He was one of my favorites to be sure because I developed a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of politics because of how well he taught. He was always very diligent. He came to class ultra prepared with handouts and other visual and audio materials to enhance the class lecture and discussion. He was fair and objective. I never knew what his political persuasion was, and with political science professors you can usually glean what their ideological bent is. I was unable to discern his leanings. Nevertheless, the point is he was a great professor whom I learned a lot from. He was way too young too pass. It’s remarkable that the university never promoted him above lecturer given his tenure there and his expertise. He will definitely be remembered and missed by his students. 

    Brian Murillo
    Political Science Major 
    cum laude 2010