Mystery Zag: Professor Blaine Garvin

professor in class
Blaine Garvin

December 01, 2019

Blaine Garvin, Ph.D. | Professor, Political Science, 1970-present

Our spring Mystery Zag holds teaching in his highest regard. He sees it as a skill, like hitting a baseball or whipping eggs for the perfect omelet. If you’re not a natural at it, time and experience should make you better, he believes. Conviction that you know something worth telling people about, courage to plunge ahead with your students, and a skilled mentor are the essentials for becoming a great teacher, he says. Garvin claims he’s still on his way to becoming such. The former students who responded below think he’s arrived.

Dr. Blaine Garvin is the Mystery Zag and also the best teacher I ever had, at any level. Dr. Garvin was a great teacher, in part, because he not only inspired students to learn, but to engage the subject with passion. He was also a good and caring mentor beyond the classroom. 
Ed Wren (’80) Seattle

I didn’t get to meet Professor Garvin until my senior year, spring 2014. I asked him to be on my committee for my political science capstone. He was very helpful in guiding me in my comprehensive exam on urbanism.
Gene Dawydiak (’14) San Francisco

Blaine Garvin, so cheerful and positive, made political science fun. Taking his tests served me well in work and life: Since essay questions had to be answered in three sentences or less, we learned to write with no BS and maximum factual detail. We also became surprisingly deft at wielding semicolons.
Marie Doyle (’81) Seattle

Blaine Garvin. I took my first political science class from him when I was a freshman in 1975. I was hooked and then took every class from him that I could. He’s great!
Jean O’Loughlin (’79) Tacoma

Dr. Blaine Garvin is your Zag. I have great memories-- him reviewing his notes outside of class prior to giving his lecture and him discussing various topics in the office he shared with Dr. Waterman are two of these. Personally, the greatest memory I have of Dr. Garvin was when he awarded me the internship for House Speaker Tom Foley. The three months living in Georgetown commuting by bus to the Capitol building provided me a wealth of knowledge and an experience of a lifetime. Thank you, Dr. Garvin. You are a true Zag.
Dave Keller (’92) Spokane

The mystery Zag, of course, is Dr. Blaine Garvin. He was my political science adviser 1973-1977. When my daughter came to Gonzaga in 2014 and decided to also major in poli sci, I told her to take a class from him soon because surely, he must be ready to retire! Imagine my surprise when she texted me during orientation to tell me her adviser was none other than Dr. Garvin. She talked to him afterward and told him he had been her mom’s adviser. He remembered me (which I was not sure was good or bad!). It was amazing considering how many students he had over the past 40 plus years.
Carolyn Rawles (’77) Corvallis, Ore.

The Mystery Zag is no mystery to those of us who took political science classes from him, 1976-1980. Professor Garvin was not only one of the most challenging teachers I had at Gonzaga, but he also had a great sense of humor. On many occasions I and several companions would try and rattle Dr. Garvin by coming to class dressed as political figures from the era (i.e. Nixon, Ford, Carter). During one class when none of the “presidents” could answer a question from the assigned readings, Dr. Garvin commented “and I thought you had to be smart to be president.” While we all still enjoyed taking classes from him after that, it was the last time we dressed up in his class.
Greg Hicks (’80) Spokane

He was instrumental in molding my worldview and building a foundation that led directly to my career in public service. “American Political Thought of the Founding Era” was the single most important class I took in undergrad or law school. Rather than just reading the Constitution, Dr. Garvin forced us to understand the context leading up to its writing. Fourteen years later, I rely on lessons learned in that class almost every day, both to understand the current strain on our political system, and as I prosecute domestic violence cases for the city of Billings. I am forever thankful for this immersive experience, and every single person who takes his class is one more informed citizen in a world that increasingly devalues higher education and perspective.
Benjamin Halverson (’08) Billings, Mont.

Share your own memory!