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Get to Know HFC: Dr. Eric Rader

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Dr. Eric W. Rader

HFC political science professor Dr. Eric W. Rader was still undecided about his career until he went to graduate school.

“I wasn't sure what I wanted to do yet,” said Rader, of Ferndale. “After I received a graduate teaching assistantship at Wayne State University when I began my doctoral studies, I discovered a love for college teaching. In grad school, I taught multiple sections of college political science classes at various colleges and universities in Southeast Michigan.”

Rader taught political science at Wayne State, Eastern Michigan University, Oakland Community College, Macomb Community College, and Schoolcraft College before joining the faculty full-time at HFC (then Henry Ford Community College) in 2004.

“My friend [and fellow HFC political science professor] Dr. Tony Perry, whom I knew at Wayne State, told me about the job opening at HFC. I was familiar with the College but had never taught here. The College has been a wonderful home for me since 2004,” said Rader.

Working for Governor Jennifer Granholm

Before coming to HFC, Rader worked for the Granholm administration for two years. Currently the Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm was Michigan’s first female governor. She served from 2003 until 2011.

Granholm’s campaign office was in Livonia. Rader, who was teaching at Schoolcraft at that time, volunteered when classes were done. By the end of the summer of 2002, he was volunteering full-time and took a hiatus from teaching. He was eventually hired to work on the general election campaign full-time.

When Granholm was elected Nov. 5, 2002, Rader became part of her public policy transition team in Lansing. When Granholm took office on Jan. 1, 2003, Rader took a staff position in her public policy division.

“In late 2003, I was proud to assist with the rollout of Gov. Granholm's Executive Directive that banned discrimination in state employment based on sexual orientation. It was subsequently revised to include gender identity. This directive marked the first time a Michigan governor protected LGBTQ+ employees in state government. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has expanded this order during her time in office,” said Rader. “As a gay man, I always felt comfortable in Gov. Granholm's office – she stood strongly with her LGBTQ+ employees and this was reflected in her policies. I, along with other gay members of her staff, read her Pride Month Proclamation from the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in June 2003, which was one of the highlights of my time working in the Governor's office.”

A chance to interact with Michigan’s political leaders

Another major project Rader worked on was the Benton Harbor Task Force, which Granholm formed after civil unrest in Benton Harbor during the summer of 2003. Rader served on that task force and was involved in drafting the final report in the fall of 2003. The files he worked on are now part of the Governor's Papers in the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Rader’s final position in the Granholm Administration was assistant policy advisor, where he focused primarily on education policy and civil rights policy. One of the projects he worked on near the end was the Cherry Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth, which was chaired by Lt. Gov. John Cherry. The focus was on increasing the number of college graduates in Michigan. The commission issued its final report a few months after Rader left to teach at HFC.

Rader looks back fondly on his time working with Granholm.

“I loved it,” he said. “It gave me a chance to interact with some incredible leaders in the State of Michigan. Gov. Granholm was a generous boss and knew all of us by name. She would stop by our desks to see how we were doing and always cared about our families and personal lives. She is one of the most gracious people I've ever known.”

An interest in government

Born in Springfield, OH, Rader comes from a blended family. He is the eldest of his biological siblings and the fourth of his six blended siblings. Around sixth grade, Rader became interested in current events and history.

“I began to read about the lives of presidents and really became interested in how government operated,” he said. “Throughout high school, my interest in government increased. I went to EMU and chose political science as my major as soon as I arrived. My focus has always been American government, though I also enjoyed comparative government and state and local government, which I teach at HFC. In grad school, I took political theory courses and have taught a few over the years.”

Rader earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from EMU. He later earned his master’s and doctoral degrees – both in political science – from Wayne State.

“The people at HFC are the best”

In addition to his teaching duties at HFC, Rader is the External Vice President of the HFC Federation of Teachers, Local 1650. He was the secretary on the 1650 Board from 2010-13.

“The people at HFC are the best,” said Rader. “(Local 1650 President) John McDonald has been my most important mentor at the College over the years. I am grateful for his mentorship and, especially, his friendship. I've made other incredible friends here and enjoy meeting new faculty and staff.”

Since 2020, Rader has served as the co-director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation (CTEI) at HFC. He works with HFC English professor Rosemary Miketa.

“Working with our great faculty on professional development opportunities is inspiring,” he said.

Since 2012, he has been a representative for Social Science on the Faculty Senate. From 2014-16, Rader was the Senate Chair.

“I have learned a lot about shared governance on the Faculty Senate and am a strong advocate for the faculty voice, including our incredible adjuncts, whom we added to the Senate during my time as chair, in academic policy,” he said.

Active within the HFC and Dearborn communities

Besides being active within the College community, Rader has also been active within the Dearborn community.

"Eric is a wonderful colleague. He is incredibly valuable to Political Science, the HFC School of Liberal Arts, 1650, and HFC at large. He is always willing to get involved and serve his union and the College. I am honored to call him a friend," said Associate Dean Robert Yahrmatter.

For Rader, the best part of teaching at HFC is the students, without a doubt.

“As a first-generation college student, I identify with the HFC student body,” he said. “We provide an incredible opportunity for students who might not otherwise go to college. Our students are passionate and dedicated to their studies. I enjoy helping my students succeed and watching them go on to four-year institutions and careers. HFC students are the best around, and I'm proud to work with them.”