A Good Spirit: Remembering Paul D. Senese

Paul D. Senese.

Paul D. Senese

In memory of Paul, the Senese family has endowed the Department of Political Science with an ongoing award to recognize top Ph.D. students who are dedicated to teaching and scholarship, especially in international relations. 

A Family Scholar

My brother, Paul, was born and raised in Niagara Falls, New York. The youngest of four siblings, he was the pride and joy of our family: smart, mild-mannered, handsome, witty and hard working.  

Professionally, Paul was a popular teacher, and a much-admired mentor to many graduate students. It goes without saying that we have always been incredibly impressed with his academic accomplishments. Although Paul began his teaching career outside of Western New York, we were thrilled that he found his way back to Buffalo to join the University at Buffalo faculty in 1998 as an assistant professor of political science (he was later promoted to associate professor with tenure at UB in 2005). 

A passion for research–and people

Great scholars are more than their academic output; they are also people with families and hobbies.
Sara Norrevik, Ph.D. student in political science and inaugural recipient of the Paul D. Senese Graduate Student Award

More than anything, Paul loved research, and spent countless hours working on his degrees, publishing articles and co-authoring “The Steps to War: An Empirical Study” (Princeton, 2008). Paul continued to work on this book throughout his illness, and he passed away a few days before the completion of the draft. His co-author, dear friend and colleague, John A. Vasquez, wrote the preface the morning after Paul’s funeral. 
When Paul was with family and friends, he was unassuming, laid back and amazing company. In particular, he was at ease hanging out with young adults, and we recall many evenings that he spent with his nephews and their friends. We know that he inspired them to go do great things with their own lives. 
Conversations at family gatherings were often thought provoking, whether they were about sports (his favorite teams were the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins), politics, travel or thoroughbred horse racing, one of his favorite pastimes. 
In the wake of Paul’s devastating diagnosis, and the many doctor visits and hospitalizations that he endured, he remained positive and hopeful. He rarely spoke about his illness, but instead he simply said, “think happy thoughts” and continued to express concern for our wellbeing. Even as I, his eldest sibling, write this 12 years after his passing, the loss is still raw. There is not a day that goes by when he is not in my thoughts.

A legacy lives on

Our family is so very grateful and happy for the opportunity to keep Paul’s legacy alive by establishing this award, with the support of the Department of Political Science. We also encourage visitors to campus to find the Paul D. Senese Graduate Assistantship plaque, another memorial award established in 2007, that hangs in Park Hall, as well as the tree just outside of Park Hall that is dedicated to Paul. These are all reminders of a very special man.

By Sandra Bordonaro