One of the most important principles in Michael Mezey’s life is to not take it too seriously.
“I try to take life one day at a time,” said Mezey, one of three provost candidates. “I try not to take myself too seriously and I try to find humor in a lot of situations. Otherwise life would be pretty boring.”
Born in 1943, Mezey grew up with one younger sister in Brooklyn, N.Y. His father worked in a clothing factory and his mother was a secretary for the New York Police Department. As a child, he played softball and touch football on the streets.
“I played a little bit, I wasn’t very good,” Mezey said. “I never was on a team, it was mostly sandlot games.”
His first job was at Western Union delivering telegrams in Manhattan, N.Y.
“It was just a weekend job,” he said. “In those days telegrams were delivered in envelopes by Western Union boys. I was one of those boys.”
Political science became his main interest when he was a child and read about politics of the day.
“It wasn’t until college that I figured out you could take courses just on political science,” Mezey said. “I started out as a physics major but that only lasted about a year. My parents worried I wouldn’t be able to find a job with a political science degree.”
He lived in Brooklyn, until he graduated from the City College of New York in 1963 with a degree in political science. He then attended Syracuse University for his master’s and doctorate degrees, which is where he met his wife Susan.
Susan Mezey said she was a friend of Mezey’s sister in college and met him in August 1965 at a mutual friend’s wedding.
Within a few months they were engaged and married in October 1966.
“We had a lot of things in common,” said Susan Mezey, professor of political science at Loyola University and assistant vice president of research. “We were both in love with politics, we both grew up and went to college in New York, that sort of thing.”
They have two children, Jennifer and Jason. Jennifer Mezey is an attorney in Washington, D.C., at the Center for Law and Social Policy. Jason Mezey is an assistant professor of English at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
Mezey discovered his passion for teaching when he was a teacher’s assistant in graduate school. Upon graduation, he taught at the University of Virginia for a year and a half before moving to Bangkok, Thailand, to teach at Thammasat University in an exchange program.
“It was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed the students very much and it was wonderful traveling the country,” Mezey said. “It was an exciting time to be there with the war in Vietnam very close by. The least enjoyable part was seeing the American soldiers who were very young coming into Bangkok to fight.”
He returned to the United States and briefly taught at Wesleyan University and the University of Hawaii before arriving at DePaul University in Chicago.
Patrick Callahan, department chair of the political science department at DePaul, was on the committee who hired Mezey in 1977.
“He is a superb administrator and is clear about what he wants from people,” Callahan said. “He’s a very popular professor and a friendly fellow with a good sense of humor. He also is a very hard worker and an excellent communicator.”
Although he has been dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at DePaul since 1995, Mezey considers himself more of an educator than an administrator.
“I have the best job in the world,” Mezey said. “I work with young people every day. I seem them come in as children at 17 or 18, and four years later I get to see them graduate and go out into the world as adults. It’s very humbling.”
Mezey has written numerous articles, books and papers.
“He has the amazing ability to keep large numbers of facts in his head simultaneously,” Callahan said. “He knows the material backwards and forwards.”
In his spare time, Mezey enjoys playing card games, like bridge and poker, and is an avid reader. He enjoys cooking and he and his wife frequently go to the theater. He also loves watching sports on television.
“I like a quiet evening at home watching sports,” Mezey said. “I watch a lot of sports. My wife might say I watch too much sports!”
He’s also an amateur photographer and focuses on street scenes and locations. He also documents the vacations that he and his wife take.
“Most recently, in December, we went to Havana for a week,” he said. “It was interesting finding out that it is neither the heaven that some people paint it to be, but not the hell that others paint it.”
Mezey is no stranger to Fort Worth. His brother-in-law has been a physician here for the past 25 years.
“I come quite frequently to Fort Worth,” Mezey said. “I certainly like the sort of Western lifestyle. The people are unbelievably friendly and TCU is a very exciting place.
“Things seem to slow down in Fort Worth and I like that. It certainly is warmer there too.”