Department of Political Science
Area of specialty: Comparative politics, particularly Africa and Western Europe
Education: Ph.D. Louisiana State University
M.A. University of Delaware
B.A. University of Delaware
Dr. Iren Omo-Bare began his career at Millsaps College 16 years ago, when he took a yearlong position in the political science department. During that first year, Dr. Omo-Bare so much enjoyed his interactions with Millsaps students and other faculty that he decided against returning to Nigeria to pursue a career in foreign service, as he had originally planned. Instead, he applied for the available permanent position in the department and stayed on at the College.
But international comparative politics were not always the focus of Dr. Omo-Bare's attentions. From the age of 11, he attended boarding schools in England and started college at the University of London. He says he "attended some classes," but spent a good deal of his time in nightclubs. "I was there so much, I thought, 'Why not make some money?'" He got his chance when a disc jockey fell ill one night, giving Omo-Bare the opportunity to slide in behind the turntables. Club owners at the discotheque invited him to be their DJ, a job he kept for the next five years. After that, it was back to Nigeria - to his parents' chagrin, with no degree - to work in the family business.
After he married and settled down in Nigeria, Omo-Bare says that, "the fact that I did not have a degree was nagging at me." He decided to try another school in another country, where he would stay focused. He went to the University of Delaware to complete his bachelor's degree and ended up staying on for his master's. His professors advised him to go to the University of Wisconsin for his Ph.D., but Omo-Bare was sick of the repeatedly record-breaking winters he was experiencing in Delaware, and didn't want more of the same (or worse) in Wisconsin. Watching an LSU football game in midwinter, he saw fans in T-shirts (or no shirts) cheering. "They were not cold... so I applied to universities in the South," Omo-Bare says, and he ended up earning his Ph.D. from LSU.
"Originally, I wanted to teach in a bigger college where I could disappear," Dr. Omo-Bare says. "I never thought I'd enjoy spending hours in my office talking with students. Now, I see, it is, perhaps, the best part of the job." Currently an associate professor and chair of the political science department, Dr. Omo-Bare says his favorite course to teach is Politics of Development, which explores developing countries with a focus on why those countries struggle. "Only geniuses always get A's," he says. "So you will have to work to get an A in my class. But if you get one, you'll know you have earned it."