Prof Profiles: Mitzi Mahoney

As a native Texan, Dr. Mitzi Mahoney has been a dedicated political science professor at Sam Houston State University for almost 15 years.

Mahoney began working at Sam Houston in 1988 after teaching at Emory University in Atlanta.

“I have family in Texas, so I was ready to move home,” she said. After growing up in the Dallas area, Mahoney attended what is now called the University of Texas at Panamerican where she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science. She then transferred to the University of Kentucky to earn her doctorate in the same field.

As the first woman hired to teach full time in the SHSU political science department, Mahoney said she was thrilled with the offer. At her interview, the department took her to the Texan in Huntsville for breakfast, where she ate biscuits and gravy.

“I knew I had to move back then,” she said.

Mahoney said teaching or going to law school are the two most common decisions for political scientists who want to do advanced work.

“Teaching and research seemed better suited to my interests and personality,” she said. “I never thought I could find somebody to pay me to read books.”

Although she knows not everyone is interested in political science, Mahoney said she does what she can to help her students gain an interest in it.

“I’m glad to have the chance to try to turn them on to it,” she said.

Outside of teaching her classes, Mahoney concentrates her research on children’s policy and children’s health insurance. She writes various conference papers and recently had a piece published in a textbook concerning children’s health insurance.

“My volunteer worked sparked my interest in the research,” she said. Mahoney also volunteers with Child Advocate, Inc. out of Harris County as a court appointed special advocate, where she works with children in the care of Children’s Protective Services.

“My job is to make recommendations to the judge about whether a child should be returned to his or her family, or remain in foster care,” she said. “I get to know everyone in the family and decide what is best for that family.”

Mahoney is married to a high school science teacher, and they have “one spoiled dog.”

“Since I don’t have my own children, I have the time to help children in bad situations,” she said.

Mahoney said she has always enjoyed working with children and has been involved in various child related activities.

“Lots of kids don’t get enough attention or help, and I get to help them,” she said.

Stadium policy is another recent area Mahoney has found an interest in. Stadium policy includes policy regarding the building of sports arenas and other sports revenues in major cities.

When she is not volunteering, teaching or doing research, Mahoney said she enjoys quilting and cooking.

“I love to cook, and I love to eat,” she said.

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