Professor Robert P. Watson, Ph.D.
Professor of American Studies
Boca Raton, Florida
Robert Watson is an award-winning professor, analyst for numerous news outlets, and author who has published 36 books, two encyclopedia sets, and hundreds of scholarly articles, essays, and book chapters on topics in American history and politics. His recent books include Affairs of State: The Untold History of Presidential Love, Sex, and Scandal (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012), America’s First Crisis: The War of 1812 (SUNY Press, 2013), and The Presidents’ Wives: The Office of First Lady in US Politics (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2014). As a scholar, Watson was the founder and editor of the journal White House Studies and assistant editor and reviews editor of The Social Science Journal, and has served as a board member with several other academic journals and community organizations, as well as with the Harry S. Truman Foundation, Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, and George McGovern Center for Leadership and Public Service. He co-convened a half-dozen national conferences on the American presidency, co-founded the annual Truman Legacy Symposium – held at the Harry S. Truman Little White House and sponsored by the Truman Presidential Library – edits and directs the Report to the First Lady, which is presented to the White House at the time of the inauguration of a new administration, and has served as a visiting fellow or scholar with over a dozen organizations including the Truman Presidential Library, Gerald Ford Presidential Museum, South Dakota Humanities Council, James Madison University, the Detroit Jewish Community Center, and the US Military Academy at West Point. As a political commentator, Watson has been interviewed thousands of times by media outlets around the country and world, including CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, USA Today, The New York Times, NPR, the BBC, and so on, and has appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, C-SPAN, Book TV, The Washington Journal, Voice of America, and the debut program for American History TV, to name a few. He is also the political analyst for WPTV 5 NBC, a regular guest on the Sunday morning news shows To the Point (WPTV 5) and Issues (WPBT 2 PBS) in Florida, was a long-time Sunday columnist for the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, and has been either the station political analyst or regular guest for many talk radio stations, including WIOD 610 AM and WFTL 850 AM in Florida, RTE One in Ireland, ABC radio in Australia, and others. As a leader and volunteer in his community, Dr. Watson has been active in an array of services including organizing voter registration drives, providing civic education programs for schools, offering workshops for teachers, hosting community town halls, moderating both candidate and political issue debates, and offering well over one thousand lectures to civic and professional groups around the country. He also co-founded three non-profits dedicated to civic engagement, political reform, and fact-checking political ads. Watson developed the initial successful proposals for Florida Atlantic University to host a presidential primary debate in 2008 and for Lynn University to host the final presidential debate of 2012. For his work, Professor Watson has received a number of awards including the International Abraham Lincoln Center’s award for his contributions to the study of the presidency, the Children's Hero Award for the civics and history programs he offers to schools, the League of Women Voters’ “Good Government Award” for his election commentary and the voting guides he distributes to schools and media outlets, the South Florida Business Journal’s “Heavy Hitter in Education” for his efforts to promote civic education, the Student Chabbad Center’s award for promoting Jewish education and understanding, several teaching excellence awards, including Outstanding Professor of the Year at both Florida Atlantic and Lynn (twice), and others. He has also been inducted into two sports halls of fame and several of his books have been nominated for awards and are in international translation. Robert was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, attended public schools in nearby Hershey, and was educated at Virginia Tech, where he was a member of the football and track teams. Robert and his wife, Claudia, reside in Boca Raton with their children, Alessandro and Isabella. Watson is Professor of American Studies at Lynn University and Senior Fellow at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship.See all speakers