Chancellor’s Award winner inspired by family, motivated by curiosity


Chancellor Victor Boschini honored political science professor Ralph Carter (cq.) during University Convocation with the 2014 Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement, the highest accolade a professor can earn at TCU.

Carter has received many awards throughout his career. But this one, he said, is his greatest achievement.

“To have [Boschini] say, ‘you’re the best at what you do this year,'” Carter said. “It’s hard to get past that.”


Despite his achievements, Carter’s interest in political science didn’t begin until he was in college. As a child, he enjoyed playing baseball and football, but his favorite thing to do was read.

“I immersed myself in anything I could get my hands on,” Carter said. “It took me to a different place…I learned more about the world.”

Carter had many role models growing up, but none more important than his parents, who were both born and raised during the Great Depression. His mother grew up on a farm with no running water or indoor plumbing, and his father came from a blue collar family.

“My mom’s route off the farm was to make good grades in school and then leave. My mom never went to college, but she believed in education,” Carter said. “My dad actually graduated high school and was enrolled in college, but then World War II happened and he goes into the army. My dad never got back to college, but he thought education was important.”

“So my sister and I were really pushed to study hard and do the best we absolutely could,” Carter said. “Nothing is given to you. You better work hard at whatever you do.”

Carter graduated summa cum laude from Midwestern State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He received his master’s degree and doctorate in political science at Ohio State University.

Fueled by hard work and driven by his childhood curiosity, Carter began his journey as a political science professor. He’s worked at TCU since 1982.

Dan Kaszeta (cq.), who graduated TCU in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in political science wrote that, “The great thing about taking classes with Dr. Carter was that he was really fun to listen to. He kept your attention and made everything fun and interesting. You felt bad if you missed a class, because you felt like you lost out on something.”

Heather Waldon, who graduated TCU in 1989, wrote that, “His door was always open for any student and he was always willing to put down his own work and research to help us sort out a thorny question or even give us advice on life after college.”

Carter reacted by saying “When you learn that you’ve changed people’s outlook on things, that’s pretty rewarding. That’s pretty cool.”

“Teaching is the best part of my day. I never go out of a classroom feeling worse than I went in,” he said. “I always come out of a classroom feeling good because I enjoy teaching.”