Patricia Siplon Professor of Political Science, Director of Public Health

Patricia Siplon


Ph.D. Brandeis University
B.S., M.S. Utah State University

Areas of Expertise:

HIV/AIDS; health policy in developing countries; U.S. domestic and international health policy and foreign aid policy; sub-Saharan Africa (particularly Tanzania). : I am a long-time AIDS scholar and activist and I am the faculty adviser to Saint Michael’s chapter of the Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC).

Courses I Teach:

  • Introduction to American National Politics
  • Research Methods
  • Global Politics of the AIDS Pandemic
  • First Year Seminar: Global Studies
  • Intro to Public Policy; HIV/AIDS in East Africa
  • Parties, Elections and Political Participation
  • Senior Seminar: African Politics
  • US Health Policy

My Saint Michael’s:

People here take the mission of the college seriously. We sometimes debate the meaning of the mission, but even that suggests to me that we care about what it means and how we make it come to life on campus. Saint Michael’s College has been very supportive of my attempts to integrate my teaching, scholarship and service into everything I do. I feel like I have the opportunity to build on the great work of others who have been here longer than me and who have been working on social justice in and outside of the classroom for many years. I also appreciate the chance to work intensively with students who are interested in going beyond the material taught in a class to do service and experiential learning, as well as research and advocacy work.

I like to think that many of the students in my classes and in political science generally are there because they want to help improve the world, and they’re interested in learning the tools for doing that. I appreciate that so many of them are open to new ideas and growth opportunities while they are here.

My favorite course to teach is PO 351– Politics of the Global AIDS Pandemic. This course lets me combine my strongest interests as a teacher, a researcher and an activist. It draws students from all kinds of majors, and gives us all an opportunity to have an extended, semester-long conversation about a critical global problem, and what we plan to do about it.

I think that both PO 351– Global Politics of AIDS and PO 352– HIV/AIDS in East Africa are pretty unique opportunities for students. Both allow students to look at a very important issue in depth, and both give students opportunities to put their knowledge into action through advocacy and service learning. PO 351 is a prerequisite for PO 352, which actually takes students to East Africa for a 2-3 week period. I have also done many independent study and independent research projects with students who got interested through these classes and wanted to keep going.


I do research on HIV/AIDS, particularly in East Africa. In recent years, I have had six opportunities to take students or alumni with me to East Africa or other developing countries to do research and/or service work. My students benefit from the real-life examples I bring in to classes on research methods and American government, especially foreign policy and its impacts. My academic background is also enhanced by my involvement with two national AIDS advocacy organizations: Health GAP, based in New York City, and Global Justice, based in Washington, DC. I serve on the board of directors for both organizations, and am the board’s co-chair for Global Justice.

Awards & Recognition

I am co-author of The Global Politics of AIDS (Lynne Rienner Publishers, February 2007). I am also co-author of Drugs into Bodies: Global AIDS Treatment Activism (Praeger, 2006).

I was awarded a Fulbright award to Jordan from the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, a 12-member Presidentially appointed board, funded by the U.S. Congress. I am teaching for a  full year in the University of Jordan’s American Studies Program in 2011-2012. I had a prior Fulbright in Tanzania in 2005, to pursue my research interests.


Life Off Campus:

I enjoy international travel, ice skating and hiking.

Favorite Quote:

“Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” – George Bernard Shaw

Recent News

Patricia Siplon of the political science faculty joined a Saint Michael’s community Zoom conversation about the crisis in Ukraine in February sponsored by the College’s new Center for Global Engagement, illustrating the important practical utility of such a Center to help people understand and process world issues affecting their lives. President Lorraine Sterritt joined scores of students, college leaders, faculty and staff tuning in by Zoom to hear a panel consisting of Trish and other Saint Michael’s faculty from Political Science and International Relations, who took turns describing important insights, nuances and undercurrents that might escape Americans who only superficially are following news about Ukraine. The other contributing faculty experts were Professors Shefali Misra, Michael Bosia, Daniel Simmons, and the event’s host, Jeffrey Ayres (top right), director of the Center for Global Engagement.
(posted July 2022)

Trish Siplon of the political science faculty, adviser to the campus group CAN (standing for COVID Action Network), reports on the group’s well-received activities over the winter holidays to support students living on campus during this period. “Basically we did the Christmas gifts and treats on December 24 like last year and the New Year’s Eve pop-up event … One of the silver linings of the COVID pandemic is that it has highlighted issues that we often would otherwise overlook,” Trish said. “After the reception that last year’s CAN intersession group received for our holiday gift project and pop-up events, we’ve realized that being on campus as a student during the holiday break can be isolating and hard on mental health. So now, we’ve decided to institutionalize some of the activities that we began last year, and work to provide support annually for students in this situation.” Also, Trish along with faculty colleagues Candas Pinar (sociology) and Krista Billingsley (anthropology/criminology) wrote a proposal for $5,000 in preliminary research funding and to be added to a $20 million National Science Foundation EPSCoR grant proposal (to be submitted 2022) through the University of Vermont.  They recently learned they received the $5,000 grant for their project on Stories of Community in Vermont and will be added to the NSF proposal in 2022! EPSCoR stated about the proposal, “Reviewers were enthusiastic about your proposal and felt strongly that your topic area could integrate well within the overarching project …”
(posted February 2022)

Patricia Siplon of the political science faculty was quoted in an early December 2020 article by reporter Xander Landen about leadership changes in Vermont’s Progressive Party, appearing on the Vermont news website VTDigger. Since the start of the semester, Trish has been coordinator and chief faculty leader of SMC CAN!, a community initiative and network of students, faculty and staff dedicated to confronting pandemic challenges at the College.
(posted February 2021)

Patricia “Trish” Siplon of the political science faculty, in March was invited to share her insights with reporter Devin Bates of local Channel 22/44 ABC/FOX about Super Tuesday and primaries going forward for the Democratic candidates, and soon after she was a source or guest several times again for radio, print and television reports on Super Tuesday and the presidential election primary season. Trish was a guest on The Dave Gram radio talk show on WDEV in Waterbury; did an interview with anchor Stewart Ledbetter of local NBC Channel 5; did live interviews for the 10 p.m. news on Super Tuesday night with local Channel 22/44, gave a surprise interview with Agence France Presse on Super Tuesday that was widely picked up by other news services and outlets including Yahoo; and was interviewed for a second vtdigger article on politics, after being quoted in a vtdigger piece the week before too. Later in the semester she did several interviews with reporter Kit Norton of the Vermont news website vtdigger for stories about Bernie Sanders. Trish also tapped her expertise about AIDS to offer a few relevant parallels to the current health crisis for another report by Bates for Local 22/44.
(posted June 2020)

Patricia Siplon of the Political Science Department was faculty adviser for Saint Michael’s College students who participated the 2019 national Fall Uprising of the Student Global AIDS Campaign held at Georgetown Law School in Washington, DC, from October 26-28.  During the national meeting they participated in workshops and heard from policy experts and leaders in the struggle for an AIDS-free world. Following the two-day conference, the group spent a morning on Capitol Hill meeting with four Senate Offices: the offices of the Vermont delegation, Senators Patrick Leahy ’61 and Bernie Sanders, as well as the offices of Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Kristin Gillibrand. In early December she joined and supported an initiative by Saint Michael’s College students to raise awareness on AIDS issues by marching on Church Street in Burlington, garnering local TV coverage.
(posted February 2020)

Patricia Siplon, professor of political science, traveled to Washington, D.C., in October to attend Fall Uprising, which is the National Student Global AIDS Campaign conference.  She attended with five students (Natalie Bates, Abbie Bohlen, Justin Gaudreault, Aislinn Hanley, Jonah Hunt, and one co-leader, Bhuttu Matthews (who works in Campus Security and is a psych grad student).  Trish also gave a talk entitled “What Is Power?” at the conference.  Some from among the group met with an alumna from the staff from the office of Vermont U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy ’61: Amelia Seman. Trish and two student members of the SMC Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC), Jonah Hunt ’20 and Josh Dionne ’20, were featured guests on the Dave Gram Show, a regular weekday news call-in show from Waterbury radio station WDEV, on Thursday, December 6. They were invited to speak for the second hour of the show on the national and global threats to progress in eradicating AIDS, including the ways that current American immigration policy may undermine both funding and treatment for people living with and at risk for HIV. On November 10, Trish and recent graduate Victoria Smith (’18 International Relations) presented at the 50th annual NPSA (Northeastern Political Science Association) conference in Montreal, Canada. Their co-authored paper, “Power Dynamics and Global Health Care Worker Inequities” explores the ways in which power inequalities at multiple levels and in multiple forms intersect to create and perpetuate drastic health care worker shortages in developing countries. She also had a non-academic publication in The Long Trail News, “Beaver Meadow Trail,” a story about winter camping at the Beaver Meadow Lodge with a group of friends (including St. Mike’s colleague Rai Farrelly).
(posted January 2019)

Patricia Siplon, professor of political science, was the keynote speaker at the National Student Global AIDS Campaign Conference held at Harvard University February 21. She delivered a talk entitled “Global HIV/AIDS Activism and the Role of Students — Past, Present and Future.”  She will also deliver a paper entitled “First Do No Harm: Power, Partnerships and Pedagogy in Community-Engaged Learning” at the Annual Midwest Political Science Association Panel. She will also serve as chair and discussant for a panel entitled “Enhancing Civic Engagement.”  She will be accompanied by a student, Kyra Payne, who will be presenting a poster of her research paper entitled “Looking for the Next Meal: Food and Water Insecurity among Tanzania’s Impoverished” based on field work in Tanzania supported by a Summer Research Grant from the Academic Vice President in 2014.
(Posted April 2015)