Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

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Collins Institute names new director; Weissert retiring from COSSPP faculty

Dr. Lonna Rae Atkeson, Dr. Carol Weissert

The LeRoy Collins Institute (LCI) announced July 22, 2021 that Lonna Rae Atkeson, Ph.D., has been named its new director, overseeing all daily activities of the Institute. Atkeson will replace Professor of Political Science Carol S. Weissert, who is retiring at the end of July after serving as director of the Institute for 14 years. 

The institute, housed within the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, studies and promotes policy solutions to issues facing the people of Florida and the United States. 

Atkeson is a renowned expert on election science and administration, survey research, public policy, voting rights, state politics, public opinion, and political behavior. She comes to LCI from a position as professor and regents lecturer of political science at the University of New Mexico.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Dr. Atkeson as our new director,” said Lester Abberger, chairman of the LeRoy Collins Institute. “As a scholar and expert on public policy and elections, Dr. Atkeson is uniquely positioned to lead the Institute into the future.” 

Atkeson earned plaudits for her public policy work in New Mexico, and served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and various private companies. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the JEHT Foundation, the Golisano Foundation, the Thornburg Foundation, the New Mexico Department of Transportation, the New Mexico Secretary of State, and Bernalillo County, New Mexico. 

“Dr. Atkeson’s experience throughout her career and her knowledge of policy and research make her an ideal fit for the institute,” said outgoing Director Weissert. “We are honored to have her join us and look forward to her tenure leading the organization through an interesting period in our nation’s political life.”

Weissert is retiring from her faculty position as well. She first arrived at Florida State in 2003 as LeRoy Collins Eminent Scholar Chair and professor of political science at Florida State. She became director of the institute in 2007. Prior to that, she had been professor of political science and director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University.

Weissert has distinguished herself through the years as an expert on federal and state politics and health policy. She has been called on frequently by the media for her insight.

Atkeson assumes the role of director effective August 9, 2021. She will also join the faculty of the Department of Political Science and assume the LeRoy Collins Eminent Scholar Chair.