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Donnelly to Present 'Executive Power' Thesis

April 26, 2013

Donnelly, a political science major, is the son of Paul and Susan Donnelly. His paper is titled, "Descent to Dictatorship: the Steady Climb of Executive Power." He chose his topic based on a question posed to him during his freshman year by Dr. Tony Litherland, professor of political science at OBU.

"After detailing the rise of the Roman Emperors, (Dr. Litherland) told us that the Romans never realized they had lost their Republic, and followed by asking: 'Have you lost yours?'" said Donnelly.

The senior thesis explores the historical increase in the powers of the American executive branch of government and the reasons for that increase. The thesis notes the tendency of the executive branch to hold on to any powers acquired and the non-partisan manner in which power is acquired. Following this, Donnelly explores the manners in which the legislative and judicial branches have responded to the executive branch's ever-increasing importance and power, and why that response is worrying.

"The legislative and judicial branches, far from providing the check which the writers of the Constitution intended, have done much to prop up the power of the executive," Donnelly said. "Finally, I note the ways in which the media places national emphasis on the executive and the effects it has on the public perception of the various aspects of U.S. government."

Following graduation, Donnelly plans to earn a master's degree in foreign relations and acquire language skills in Arabic.

"It is my hope to become a diplomat who works to promote peace and understanding in an increasingly connected world," he said.

Presentations by students in OBU's Honors Program last approximately one hour. Individually, the projects reflect extensive and intense study and attention, said Dr. Karen Youmans, professor of English who directs the program. Collectively, the projects represent an important commitment of the OBU community to careful study and good writing, she said.

The Honors Program builds on the foundation of OBU's basic liberal arts curriculum. Courses taken in common by Honors Program students are spread out across the years at OBU. In addition to these courses, all Honors Program graduates complete at least two of three "capstone" activities including study abroad, a service practicum and a senior thesis.

Visit the OBU Honors Program Web page.