James Kent Syler

Professor, Political Science and Public Policy, College of Liberal Arts

James Kent Syler
615-898-2708
Room 209, Peck Hall (PH)
MTSU Box 29, Murfreesboro, TN 37132

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Syler is a strategist and analyst who focuses on Tennessee politics. He has been immensely involved in government and politics for over thirty years.  He managed former Congressman Bart Gordon’s first campaign for congress in 1984 and two subsequent re-election campaigns, and served as Gordon’s Tennessee Chief of Staff from 1985 until his retirement in 2011.

During his time at MTSU, Syler has received national attention for his work with archival political letters. Syler’s research demonstrated that many of the same issues dividing Americans today such as civil rights, immigration, health care policy, guns, and trade have been shaping political debate for over 50 years.

   

Areas of Focus

Archival Research on Political Letters​ | Campaign Strategy, Media and Advertising | Gerrymandering | Political Analysis and Commentary on American Politics and Government | Political Comedy | Political Polling

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Degree Information

  • MA, Middle Tennessee State University (1998)
  • BS, Middle Tennessee State University (1983)

Biography

Kent Syler has been immensely involved in Tennessee politics for over thirty years.  Starting as a campaign “sound truck” driver in 1978, he has gone on to become one of Tennessee’s most respected political strategists and analyst.

Professor Syler has taught in the Middle Tennessee State University Department of Political Science and International Relations since 2002. He also serves as Special Projects Coordinator for MTSU’s Albert Gore Research Center.

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Kent Syler has been immensely involved in Tennessee politics for over thirty years.  Starting as a campaign “sound truck” driver in 1978, he has gone on to become one of Tennessee’s most respected political strategists and analyst.

Professor Syler has taught in the Middle Tennessee State University Department of Political Science and International Relations since 2002. He also serves as Special Projects Coordinator for MTSU’s Albert Gore Research Center.

Syler managed Congressman Bart Gordon’s first campaign for congress in 1984 and his tough re-election campaigns in 1994 and 1996.  He served as Gordon’s Tennessee Chief of Staff from 1985 until his retirement in 2011. He has been actively involved with dozens of other campaigns, ranging from school board and city council to governor and U.S. Senate.

Kent has served as a Winter School Lecturer at Sciences Po (Paris Institute of Political Studies) in Reims, France where he designed and taught a course with Bart Gordon. The class introduced European students to the ideas, practices, and institutions that constitute politics and government in the United States.

Kent is a political columnist and is frequently quoted in Tennessee and national news media. His work introducing students to archival constituent letters sent to Senator Albert Gore, Sr. was feathered in the New York Times. He serves as Political Analyst for WSMV-TV, News 4.

He is a former MTSU Student Body President and has BS and MA degrees from MTSU. Kent is active in the community serving as the Chairman of the Murfreesboro Greenways Committee and is a Past President of the Murfreesboro Rotary Club.

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