Spring on the York College campus

Back to List

Office Space: John Altman, Professor of Political Science

July 19, 2023
John Altman in his Office Space

The way a person decorates can say a lot about them. In the Office Space series, we go beyond the résumé and get to know York College faculty and staff members through the objects they like to keep close.

John Altman is a Professor of Political Science and past Chair of the Department of History and Political Science at York College of Pennsylvania. He has been teaching at York College for 23 years. Altman holds a B.A. in Political Science and an M.P.A. from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Tennessee. He teaches undergraduate courses in the area of American government and graduate courses in the Master of Public Policy and Administration Program. His research interests focus on comparative state-level policy analysis, and he serves as a Senior Faculty Associate in the Arthur J. Glatfelter Institute for Public Policy.

1. Collage of Family Pictures

Over the years, Dr. Altman has added pictures of his wife, children, and pets to the bulletin board at his desk. He says, “I like to look at them and reflect on how fortunate I have been in this life.”

OS John Pictures 2. Two Prints

Soyuz-6 cyclogram

This print was handmade by a Russian cosmonaut, Georgi Grechko. The cyclogram shows a 96-day flight of Salyut 6. Some 22 parallel time-series display 1,500 sunrises and 1,500 sunsets during the flight, a schedule for space walks and baths, and visits of resupply ships bringing equipment, fresh fruit, and gingerbread.

Losses of the French Army in the Russian Campaign, 1812-1813

Dr. Altman believes this is probably the best statistical graphic ever drawn. The map by Charles Joseph Minard portrays the losses suffered by Napoleon’s army in the Russian campaign of 1812. Beginning at the Polish-Russia border, the thick band shows the size of the army at each position. The path of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow in the bitterly cold winter is depicted by the dark lower band, which is tied to temperature and time scales. He says, “As a political scientist who enjoys collecting, analyzing, and presenting data, I have found these two displays of graphic information to be exquisite and sublime.”

3. Duck FigurineOS John Wood Figure

One afternoon during a 16-day trek through Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, Dr. Altman decided to whittle a duck out of a pine branch. The duck has no head because his knife slipped and cut off the nub of wood that would have become the duck’s head. Unfortunately, he also took off part of his thumb with that stroke as well.

OS John Map 4. Maps and Globe

Dr. Altman likes to sit and stare at the U.S. map, world map, and world globe and think about all the places he’s been and the places he wants to go. He wonders about how people in all the various places are living their lives, and observes that some are luckier than others.

5. Pirate Flags

A string of flags represent all the different pirates that sailed in and out of Bald Head Island, NC, located at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Dr. Altman says it is his family’s favorite summer beach destination.