Cal Jillson received his B.S. in Political Science from Oregon State University in 1971 and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1976 and 1979. He taught at Louisiana State University (1980-87) and the University of Colorado (1987-95) before joining the faculty of Southern Methodist University (1995-present).
His recent books include Pursuing the American Dream: Opportunity and Exclusion Over Four Centuries (2004) and Lone Star Tarnished: A Critical Look at Texas Politics and Public Policy (2012).
Professor Jillson teaches and writes about American political ideals and institutions. Several books, Congressional Dynamics (Stanford University Press, 1994), New Perspectives on American Politics (CQ Press, 1994), and The Dynamics of American Politics (Westview Press, 1994), deal with the origins of American legislatures and with the health and performance of contemporary American politics and political institutions. Pathways to Democracy (Routledge, 2000) deals with the transition to democracy and the prospects for democratic consolidation in the major regions of the world. Professor Jillson is the author of two major textbooks, American Government: Historical Development and Institutional Change (published in 1999, currently in its 7th edition) and Texas Politics: Governing the Lone Star State (published in 2007, currently in its 3rd edition).
Professor Jillson chaired the Department of Political Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder, from 1989 to 1993, and served as founding director of the Keller Center for the Study of the First Amendment from 1993 to 1995. From 1995 to 2001 he chaired the SMU Political Science Department and directed its John Tower Center for Political Studies. He is a frequent commentator on domestic and international political events for local, national, and international media.