In Memory of
1933 - October 19, 2019
Jameson Doig GS ’58, ’61, a professor emeritus of
political and public policy, died on Oct.19, 2019 at the
age of 86.
Professor Doig, called “Jim” by his colleagues, joined
the University faculty as an assistant professor of
politics at the Woodrow Wilson School (WWS) in 1961,
became a full professor in 1970, and taught in the WWS
until he retired in 2004. In addition to teaching, he
served as the chair of the Politics Department and twice
as the director of the Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate
Born on June 12, 1933, in Oakland, Calif., Doig received
his B.A. in philosophy from Dartmouth College before
serving for three years as an officer in the U.S. Navy.
He then continued his education at the University, where
he completed an M.P.A in 1958 and a Ph.D. in Politics in
Stanley Katz, President Emeritus of the American Council
of Learned Societies, is one of the only remaining WWS
professors who worked with and knew Professor Doig well.
He met him when he first began teaching at the WWS in
1981 and considered Doig a close friend.
“Technically, his field was American politics,” Katz
said. “Realistically, he was interested in what I would
call ‘the administrative state,’ particularly its
administration in urban regions. To that end, one of
Doig’s most acclaimed works is his ‘Empire on the
Hudson: Entrepreneurial Vision and Political Power at
the Port of New York Authority,’ a comprehensive history
of a central institution in New York’s transportation
Doig’s scholarship was distinctive because he took the
time to get to know the people on the ground.
“He was widely respected as a scholar with his feet on
the ground, he actually knew what was happening, and he
got to know a lot of the people who were responsible for
administration,” Katz said.
Katz also got to see a more personal side of Doig. The
two of them would bring their children to the same
public swimming pool, and while their kids were
splashing around in the water, they would enjoy the
opportunity to speak.
“Jim was very much the father who took the kids to the
pool. He was a terrific father, deeply devoted to the
children,” said Katz. Doig’s wife Joan worked in the
Human Resources office at the University, and the couple
lived in Princeton with their daughter, Rachel, and sons
Stephen and Sean.
“Jim knew exactly who he was, and that turns out to be
unusual — not that many people do,” said Katz.
Doig passed on his unique approach to his students as
David Gould ’68, the former chairman of the New York
State Ethics Commission, explained that he ended up in
Professor Doig’s first WWS seminar by mistake.
Like many of his fellow students, Gould had signed up
for a seminar on the Populist Era, a “trendy left-wing
subject taught by a well known and greatly admired
professor.” Due to overflow in that seminar, however, he
was assigned instead to Doig’s seminar on police
departments — an unknown professor and a significantly
less fashionable topic.
“The Police Seminar turned out to be the most
electrifying, edifying, and important educational
experience I ever had, a view shared by every one of my
co-conferees. Another shared view was that, no thanks to
us, we had landed in the lap of the best professor any
of us had ever experienced,” Gould said in a speech
delivered after Doig’s retirement in 2004, the text of
which Gould forwarded to The Daily Princetonian.
“By the middle of the first seminar it was clear to us
all that Professor Doig was brilliant, very hardworking,
and certain that our seminar would involve not only
education but public service,” continued Gould. The
students, like their professor, had the opportunity to
get “their feet on the ground.”
“I remember thinking to myself that all those lottery
winners [students who ended up in the Populist Era
seminar] never got hit by a bag of flaming excrement as
part of the experience of their seminar,” Gould noted.
Andrew D. Hurwitz ’68, once one of Gould’s classmates in
the police seminar and now a United States Circuit judge
on the court of appeals for the ninth circuit, was
Doig’s professed favorite student, said Gould. In his
senior year, Hurwitz helped Doig put together a proposal
for a reformed police force for the mayor of New Jersey.
“The mayor was impressed and asked us to meet with the
police chief who looked at our work and said: ‘this is
all fine but also get me some more tanks and machine
guns.’ On the way out Jim reminded me once again that
public policy is not simply an academic matter,” Hurwitz
wrote in an obituary forwarded to the ‘Prince.’ “I have
carried that lesson with me ever since.”
Later in his career, Doig’s academic interests shifted,
and he became more focused on Canadian constitutional
law. This brought him into even closer contact with
Katz, whose field is history of law.
“He used to send me everything he wrote about Canadian
constitutional law, and we spent a lot of time talking
about what was distinctive about [it],” said Katz. “He
was probably the leading expert in the United States on
Canadian constitutional law.”
This interest extended beyond academia. Doig was also
very helpful to Canadian students and played a role in
the Canadian studies program.
Not only was Doig influential as a professor, but he
built relationships with his students that remained
after they graduated, continuing to offer both
educational and personal guidance.
“Jim Doig was far and away the best thing about my
Princeton education and the same is true for many
others,” Hurwitz wrote. “But Jim’s mentorship did not
end when you graduated … he was always available to
comment on your work and regularly asked [you] to
comment on his.”
“He was virtually a daily presence in our [students of
his first seminar] lives from 1967 until he died. We
shared our conflicting views on current events and even
on family matters. Every time I was on the phone with,
Jim my older autistic son would plead ‘Can I talk to
Professor Doing [sic],’ and he always did,” Gould added.
Gould and his wife have been very involved in issues
relating to the autism of their two sons, and Gould
described that “When I felt desperation for the future
of my children (i.e. almost every day), Jim was always
there to help pull me off the ledge.”
Hurwitz wrote that he, Gould, and R. Stuart “Stu”
Halstead ’68, three former students from Doig’s police
seminar, emailed their former professor with their
thoughts and prayers after he entered the hospital
during his final illness.
“At the end of his characteristically gentle response,
he noted: ‘I’m 86 and I’m tired,’” Hurwitz wrote. “And
with good reason. Jim did the work of several lifetimes
with my class alone. Princeton has had no better
professor, and we will miss him.”