UMass Amherst Political Scientist Jane Fountain Appointed Distinguished Professor

AMHERST, Mass. – University of Massachusetts President Robert L. Caret has appointed Jane Fountain, UMass Amherst professor of political science and public policy and director of the National Center for Digital Government, a Distinguished Professor, following approval by the Board of Trustees on Dec. 11.

In his letter supporting Fountain’s nomination, UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy wrote that “Dr. Fountain has done more than almost anyone to advance the study of digital government. Indeed, Dr. Fountain literally wrote the book that defined this field, Building the Virtual State: Information Technology and Institutional Change. This book is universally acknowledged as by far the best publication on its topic.”

“We agree wholeheartedly with the unanimous recommendations to promote Dr. Fountain to the rank of Distinguished Professor,” Subbaswamy concluded, “and we proudly nominate our colleague for this singular and much deserved distinction.”

Since joining the UMass Amherst faculty in 2005, her research has focused on the areas of institutional perspectives on technology and governance, public organizations and bureaucratic change, women and computing, and the intersection of science, technology and society.

Fountain has received numerous awards and recognitions during her tenure at UMass Amherst, including election to the National Academy of Public Administration and selection as an Inaugural Senior Fellow of the Information and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. She has also received two of the highest campus honors: the Chancellor’s Medal in 2012 and the 2010 Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity.

In addition to Building the Virtual State, which has been cited more than 1,200 times and translated into Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese and soon into Spanish, Fountain is credited with three co-edited volumes, nine peer-reviewed journal articles, 19 book chapters, 10 shorter works, 27 working papers, and numerous conference presentations internationally. She has also served as primary investigator or co-primary investigator on $6.25 million in grants since joining UMass Amherst.

The impact of Fountain’s ideas spreads far beyond academic texts and grants, however. She has served on the Governor’s Innovation Council of Advisors for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and on the American Bar Association’s Blue Ribbon Panel on e-Rulemaking. She has also been a council member, co-chair, or chair on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government, a duty that placed her before governmental and corporate leaders in places such as Davos, Istanbul and Vienna.

Fountain previously served at Harvard University as instructor (1989-91), assistant professor (1991-96), and associate professor (1996 to 2005). She has also served as a Radcliffe Fellow (1999 to 2001), visiting associate professor at MIT (2004), and director of the National Center for Digital Government at Harvard (2002-05), which moved with her to UMass Amherst and where she continues to serve as director.

Fountain has earned degrees in several disciplines, including a B.Mus. from the Boston Conservatory of Music, an Ed.M. in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard University, and four degrees from Yale University: an M.A. in organizational behavior, an M.A in political science, an M.Phil. in political science and organizational behavior, and a Ph.D. in political science and organizational behavior.