Profile of a Professor: Dr. Benjamin Toll, political science

Maddy Yeager, Staff Writer

Dr. Benjamin Toll has recently become a member of the Wilkes faculty as an assistant professor of political science.

Toll is responsible for teaching four courses a semester. They consist of two introductory courses to American government and two rotating upper-level courses that cover American politics. This semester his upper-level classes cover Congress and policy analysis. They will change next semester to cover urban politics and media.

Toll was born in Kentucky but was raised in Indiana. He grew up as a professor’s son. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from Taylor University. He continued his education to receive a Master’s degree in Church-State Studies from Baylor University. He further continued to receive a Master’s and Doctorate degrees in political science from Indiana University.

The Beacon/Parker Dorsey
Dr. Benjamin Toll

“The interesting thing about being a professor is that you get to study what you are interested in,” Toll said. “I have kind of always had  [being a professor] in the back of my head of being a fun job to have.”

His first teaching position was as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at Miami University. He was later working as an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lake Superior State University in Michigan, until this summer when he was hired here on campus.

He later described that starting a new position has allowed him to reset his interests for his research. Toll describes his currents interests have to do with the linkage between higher education and another topic. He is writing papers on higher education funding and how it has decreased over the last forty years. More specifically he is in the process of writing a paper with a colleague that looks at the politics of getting named to university boards of trustees and public universities.

Toll is also doing research on foster care and how states try to provide educational opportunities for kids that have aged out of the system.

“In foster care, a child is a ward of the state until they are 18, then the system turns them loose. Most state governments do not provide any sort of help for these teens who often have not had much of a family life, or anyone to give them resources or tools to become a successful adult,” Toll explained.

He continued stating that Pennsylvania was one of the states that had started to institute programs for teens that have come out of the foster care program. He collects data on how these programs are performing, how many people are using the program, and if the program in place is effective.

This research is near and dear to Toll’s heart. Since he is a father of three, he considers spending time with his children as being his main hobby. He was also a foster parent in Michigan, and is in the process of obtaining is fostering license in Pennsylvania.

Toll is also an avid reader. He prefers to read biographies and autobiographical novels. He completes an average of two books per week.

Toll would like to be involved with students by advising clubs and organizations that are participating in activities that are making the world better.

He is excited to join the Colonel community stating, “Wilkes is a place where most of the students are eager to learn. It’s a cool experience to see a student’s growth from their freshman to senior year. Seeing how much a student changes and becomes more confident in who they are and what they want to do is fulfilling.”