J. Wesley Leckrone

J. Wesley Leckrone, PhD

  • Chair, Political Science
  • Professor
  • Widener CARE Team Member
Media Expertise:
  • Politics & Government

Affiliated Programs


  • PhD, Political Science (2006)
    Temple University (PA)
  • MA, American History (1995)
    Temple University (PA)
  • BA, Political Science (1991)
    American University (DC)

About Me

I was a political junky growing up. When I got to college, I found that my professors focused on abstract theories at the expense of current events. This experience greatly informed my teaching philosophy, which is based on using contemporary politics to understand and test theories within the discipline of political science. Consequently, I use social media, blogging, and experiential learning events such as Student Lobby Day to engage students in critical thinking about how government functions.

I teach a broad range of courses related to American government institutions and public policy. Among these are The Presidency, Interest Groups, and State and Local Politics. My research interests are primarily in the areas of federalism, intergovernmental lobbying, and state politics. I am currently a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Federalism and the editor of Commonwealth: A Journal of Pennsylvania Politics and Policy, the official journal of the Pennsylvania Political Science Association.

Research Interests

My primary interests are in the fields of American federalism and state and local policy agendas. Recently I have been researching how the American federal system has affected the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in four co-authored publications. I am also currently co-editing a book on Teaching Federalism: Multidimensional Approaches, which will be published as part of Edward Elgar’s Teaching Methods series. Much of my research on state politics focuses on Pennsylvania. I have recently co-edited Pennsylvania Politics and Policy: A Commonwealth Reader, Volume 1 (2018) and Volume 2 (2019). I am currently doing research for Governing the Commonwealth: Politics, Policy and Executive Power in Pennsylvania. The book examines how recent Pennsylvania governors have used their formal and informal powers to influence public policy across a range of issues including education, the environment, and social welfare.

I am currently co-authoring research adapting this model to local politics through an exploration of the agendas of large-city mayors as voiced through their State of the City addresses. I am in the beginning stages of writing Governing the Commonwealth: Politics, Policy and Executive Power in Pennsylvania. The book examines how recent Pennsylvania governors have used their formal and informal powers to influence public policy across a range of issues including education, the environment, and social welfare.

Media Expertise

  • American Federalism
  • American presidency
  • Public policy
  • Legislative policy and process
  • Pennsylvania politics/elections
  • National elections


  • “American Federalism and COVID-19: Party Trumps Policy”, with John Kincaid, in Nico Steyler, editor, Managing the Coronavirus Pandemic: Federal Systems a Boon or Bane?, New York: Routledge (Forthcoming 2021).

  • “Partisan Fractures in U.S. Federalism’s COVID-19 Policy Responses”, with John Kincaid, State and Local Government Review 53 (4), forthcoming.

  • “Trying Not to Lose Ground: State and Local Government Advocacy During Passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” Publius: The Journal of Federalism 49 (Summer 2019): 407-436.

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

Pennsylvania Political Science Association (PPSA), Northeastern Political Science Association (NPSA)

International Association of Centers for Federal Studies (IACFS)


  • College of Arts and Sciences Award for Excellence in Teaching (2021)
  • Arts and Sciences Outstanding Researcher Award, Social Sciences, Widener University (2013)
  • Faculty Award for Civic Engagement Finalist, Widener University (2013)
  • Fitz Dixon Innovation in Teaching Award Finalist, Widener University (2013)


In the Media


  • Professor of Political Science Wes Leckrone has co-edited a newly released book, “Teaching Federalism: Multidimensional Approaches” which “presents innovative ideas for teaching a wide variety of key concepts of federalism and federal-country cases.”

    The book is open access and free to read, download, and share. 

    Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/political-science-faculty-co-editor-new-open-access-book

  • Arts & Sciences Faculty Member Named Distinguished University Professor

    College of Arts & Sciences Professor J. Wesley Leckrone has been named a Distinguished University Professor. The honor recognizes faculty of distinction and demonstrates to the broader community that Widener is committed to recognizing excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service throughout a faculty member’s career. Distinguished professors serve for three years.

    Leckrone is an impressive member of the faculty, and he is widely recognized for his teaching excellence. His extraordinary commitment to his teaching has not only earned him a national and global reputation but has led to him being a leader on campus. The energy and time that he devotes to course preparation and development illustrate his dedication to his students. Leckrone has published in highly prestigious, peer-reviewed journals, contributed articles and chapters in national and international edited volumes and edited and contributed to a two-volume set on Pennsylvania politics. In terms of service, Leckrone has contributed to multiple levels of faculty governance, as well as externally with organizations such as the Center for the Study of Federalism and the Pennsylvania Political Science Association. Leckrone’s continuous engagement with his research and his network ultimately provide a richer learning experience for Widener’s undergraduate and graduate students. 

    Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/22531/

  • Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award Goes to College of Arts & Sciences Faculty Member

    College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished University Professor J. Wesley Leckrone has received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award. This award is given to a faculty member who has demonstrated a history of teaching at the highest level. It is endowed by the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation, a Philadelphia-based foundation that provides grants to institutions of higher education for the promotion of excellence in teaching.

    Leckrone is an integral member of the political science faculty who has the distinction of teaching a wide range of interdisciplinary courses and provides the highest quality instruction to both majors and non-majors. Leckrone is a specialist in U.S. government, American political culture, and state and local politics. His commitment to teaching is reflected in the innovative ways he fuses his courses with high-impact practices and actively promotes civic engagement. Leckrone continually creates transformational learning experiences for his students by planning student trips such as going to Harrisburg for Student Advocacy Days, to Washington D.C. for visits to the Supreme Court and White House, and to New Hampshire for the 2020 presidential primary contests.

    Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/22556