Dr. Mel Hailey, professor emeritus of political science, has retired after over 40 years at the university.
Hailey graduated from ACU in 1970 and, beginning in 1974, taught at both the collegiate and high school levels. Starting out as a social studies teacher at Cooper High School, Hailey accepted a position as a political science professor at ACU, where he eventually became chair of the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice.
Hailey went on to accomplish many things for the university, including directing the Jack Pope Fellows Program, serving on the University Academic Council and as chair of the Law Scholarship Committee. In addition to Hailey’s role as a professor, he also served as the pre-law adviser to hundreds of students. He would provide resources to those interested in attending law school, including help with the application. According to the political science department, those students gained admission into law school each year at a rate exceeding 90%.
“My favorite part was working with students,” Hailey said. “I was very blessed to work with some of the finest anywhere and everywhere.”
Hailey’s influence wasn’t simply educational, however. He held leadership roles and participated in organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Regional Citizen Bee Contest, Project Citizen, International Justice Mission and more. He served as elder at University Church of Christ and on the board of directors for Meals on Wheels, the NOAH Project and Eastern Little League.
Colleagues like Dr. David Dillman, professor of political science and one of Hailey’s closest friends, praised him for his versatility.
“He was an excellent teacher in the classroom, as well as a strong chairman,” Dillman said. “He was very creative in starting various programs like Jack Pope Fellows and the pre-law track.”
Hailey works didn’t go unrecognized over his career. He was the first recipient of the Judge Ted Poe Endowed Chair of Political Science and Criminal Justice. During his time at ACU, he received about 15 awards, including Teacher of the Year Award, Dean Gerald Lee Wilson Award for Excellence in Pre-Law Advising and others.
Chris Riley, assistant provost for institutional effectiveness and adjunct professor of political science, is former student of Hailey’s and has stepped into his role as the university’s pre-law adviser. Hailey will continue to teach political science courses online for the department.
“ACU has a very special place in my life,” Hailey said. “It’s been a blessed 47 years, but it was time for me to go.”