Sharp, Elaine

Sharp, PhD
Year Inducted: 
Elaine Sharp
  • APSA Urban Politics Section's Norton Long Career Acheivement Award, 2007
  • Mortar Board Outstanding Educator Award, 1987
  • University of Kansas Women's Hall of Fame, 1988
  • Honorary Member, Kansas Chapter Phi Beta Kappa, 1999 

Elaine Sharp, Professor of Political Science at the University of Kansas, has been lauded for her work as a researcher and writer, as an educator, and as a leader.  She was the first woman to serve as Chair of the KU Department of Political Science.  She is also the author of 6 books, nearly 40 scholarly journal articles, and several chapters in edited volumes.  She is a leading scholar in the field of contemporary citizenship in urban America.

Professor Sharp received her BA degrees in History and Political Science in 1971 from Carlow College.  She completed her MA in Political Science in 1972 at the University of Illinois at Chicago and her PhD from the University of North Carolina in 1978.  At that time, she came to the University of Kansas as a Research Associate for the Center for Public Affairs and an Assistant Professor, moving up to the status of Professor within ten years due to receiving early promotion to Associate Professor, the only Political Science department member to do so for 30 years.  Dr. Sharp served as Director for the Center for Public Affairs from 1984-85.  She was named Chair of the Department of Political Science at KU in 1990, and remained so until 1994.  In 2005, she resumed her leadership as Departmental Chair, which she currently serves as.

She has served as the Principal or co-Principal Investigator on four research grants, including “Making the Grade” and the National Science Foundation-funded “Culture Wars, Morality Issues, and Urban Politics.”  Numerous scholarly journals have benefitted from her work as an editorial board member, as have many professional organizations, including terms as President for both the Organized Section on Urban Politics and the Public Policy Section of the American Political Science Association.  She is often called upon for consultation, such as her 1997 participation on the National Science Foundation Review Panel for Urban Long Term Ecological Research.  She serves as a University Marshall and has been very active in KU committee service.

Her books include such thought-provoking titles as Morality Issues and City Politics (2005), The Sometime Connection: Public Opinion and Social Policy (1999), Culture Wars and Local Politics (1999), The Dilemma of Drug Policy (1994), Urban Politics and Administration (1990), and Citizen Demand-Making in the Urban Context (1986).

In the classroom, one colleague noted that Sharp “stands out as a superb colleague and a first-class model for both her students and her peers.  She is not flashy in the classroom or with her research.  Rather, she is steady and sound, all the while bringing good humor and common sense to her work.”

Dr. Sharp has been lauded for her achievements in every aspect of her work.  She is an Honorary Member of the Kansas chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and received the Mortar Board Outstanding Educator Award.  The American Political Science Association’s section on Urban Politics honored her with the Norton Long Career Achievement Award in 2007.  Most recently, in 2009 she received the Charles Redd Center Award for the Best Paper on the Politics of the American West from the Western Political Science Association.

  • Enthusiasm for your chosen line of work is essential for both happiness and success.
  • There is no substitute for perseverance.                  

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