Fiddner

Dr. Dighton Fiddner is a former political science professor who gained praise from his students during his years at IUP.

Dr. Dighton “Mac” Fiddner was an associate political science professor until spring 2017.

According to IUP’s website, Fiddner is an expert in international relations, American foreign policy, national security policy and strategy, and intelligence process and policy. Fiddner has taught world politics, American foreign policy, dimensions of national security and and Intelligence Process and Policy. He was also the adviser for the political science leadership organization. 

Fiddner graduated from Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., in the early ‘60s. Davidson was a small liberal arts college of 1,100 male students. The university required ROTC for the first two years of enrollment, and 70 percent of students elected continued past that. Fiddner was a psychology undergraduate. 

“My family was not a military family,” Fiddner said. “Dad was in WWII, and I had a lot of uncles who were farmers. One worked on a shipyard.”

But Fiddner’s concern about the draft made him want to work up the ranks. 

“The draft is coming,” Fiddner said. “Better to be a second lieutenant than a private.” 

Fiddner finished more than 21 years of active duty as a lieutenant colonel and retired in 1988. 

“When I retired, I was stationed in Panama City, Republic of Panama,” Fiddner said. “The army was redeploying me to the U.S., and I was offered jobs at the Pentagon that I had absolutely no interest in. My wife said to me, ‘I think it’s time for you to retire.’ We knew getting a job while out of the country would be hard. She said, ‘Go get your Ph.D.’ and I said, ‘I like that idea.’

“I told my wife, ‘you’ve been following me all around the country. So when I retire, you have the first choice of where to live,’ and she narrowed it down to essentially either the midwest or the Rocky Mountains. I looked into the University of Pittsburgh, and the dean had been an assistant secretary of defense that I worked with in the service. I said, ‘Can you get me into the school?’ and he said, ‘Send me your stuff.’”

As Fiddner finished his dissertation in 1999, he was given the opportunity to begin teaching a political science course at IUP’s Punxsutawney campus. 

The only caveats were that the class had started three days prior, and he would have to create his own syllabus. 

“So I worked over Labor Day weekend, spent the week teaching the class and continued to teach until a tenure track position opened in 2003,” Fiddner said.

Fiddner’s colleagues in the political science department had nothing but good things to say about the retired professor. 

“He spends so much time with students,” said Dr. Sarah Wheeler, associate professor and director of graduate studies and internship coordination. “He’s very generous with his time. He has so much world experience, being a retired lieutenant colonel for, I’d say 20 years. His world experience adds to his credibility, and he’s very diplomatic.” 

Many other faculty members in the department reflected Wheeler’s sentiments. The respect his peers had for him was not the extent of his likability on campus. Students and administrators expressed their respect and admiration for Fiddner.

Andrew Wasielewski (junior, criminology and homeland security) said, “Dr. Fiddner is almost mind-blowing in his level of expertise. He’s so clear — so knowledgeable. Asking him a question is like striking oil; he can just continue to provide information. He knows so much. 

“Without a doubt, his military background gives him an edge over other professors. I have background in the military, and they teach you to communicate effectively. I can hear that come out when he speaks. He’s really effective at communicating. As far as professors go, he’s ahead of the heard.”

Fiddner said he believes that IUP offers a great education and enjoyed the school.

Fiddner said, “I think you can get a superlative education here. My goal is to provide students with the opportunity to compete with anyone. The most satisfying part is being with the students and the dialogue that forms. 

“I try to present the image that you don’t have to know it all. You walk in expecting students to learn. They’re not taking a foreign policy class because they’re experts on it. You don’t embarrass them when they don’t have the response that you’re looking for.”

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