PAB Member Eschews the Limelight: A Profile of Peter J. Longo

The following is from the University of Nebraska Press Spring 2021 Newsletter, i.e.

Peter J. Longo is a professor of political science at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He is coauthor of The Nebraska State Constitution: A Reference Guide, Second Edition (Nebraska, 2010). His most recent publication, Great Plains Politics (Bison, 2018), is a part of the Discover the Great Plains Series.

Peter Longo, professor of political science at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, doesn’t like to be in the limelight—despite his many accomplishments. When we chatted with him via Zoom, he repeatedly spoke of his admiration for many of his colleagues at the university, for his students both past and present, for his fellow Press Advisory Board (PAB) members, for the Press’s staff, and of course, for the authors of the books that the PAB scrutinizes and gives the thumbs up to publish.

“I love being on the Press Advisory Board,” he said. “The Press performs a vital function—connecting citizens of our broader world. I love the encouragement by the Press to be an avid and active reader because this leads to being an engaged citizen.”

Engaging citizens has been a cornerstone of Longo’s career. After graduating from law school, Longo went immediately to graduate school, earning his Ph.D. in political science at UNL. The combination of both degrees means he teaches courses in constitutional law, civil rights and liberties, American politics, and public policy. He talks about the particular challenges in today’s political climate of teaching American politics, trying to stress the message to his students that, in the past, our politicians and American citizens engaged in civil discourse. “How do you tell students not to distrust government?” Longo asks, as he worries about how the current political landscape looks to young people today. “What happened to civic friendships?” Longo recalls the days when Republicans and Democrats in Nebraska government had respect for one another’s opinions and points of view. Sadly, he says, this respect has eroded over the last few years. In his book—Great Plains Politics, part of UNP’s Discover the Great Plains series with the Center for Great Plains Studies—Longo profiles six politicians who have been positive contributors to the political history of the Great Plains. While their viewpoints varied from liberal to conservative, all were steadfastly committed to the state and the nation.

Longo is the son, brother, and father of medical professionals, so he has great respect for science and understands the importance of trusting scientific professionals. One of the courses Longo loves to teach is environmental policy, where he works with scientists to demonstrate how public policy has an impact on our environment. In this course, he says, he lets the facts speak for themselves, and students can draw from them sound conclusions about the role public policy plays in the future of our climate.

Longo grew up outside of Omaha in Bellevue, Nebraska, and attended Creighton Prep High School and Creighton University before going to UNL for his law and graduate degrees. He credits working as head umpire in Little League baseball as the place where he learned to deal with all kinds of people, to have a thorough knowledge of the rules of a game, and to teach others to be good sports.

If anyone exemplifies being a good sport, it’s Peter Longo. Gracious, hardworking, and always rooting for the “other guy,” Longo brings all of this and more to his role on PAB. UNP thanks him heartily for his continued service.

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