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A ROUTINE 11-HOUR DAY

COLLEGE PARK — COLLEGE PARK -- It is 7:40 a.m. Political scientist Paul Herrnson is awake, dressed in shirt and tie -- this is a teaching day, after all -- and sitting at his breakfast table a mile south of the University of Maryland campus, where he is an associate professor in the department of government and politics.

A former congressional aide who works his contacts on the Hill like a veteran lobbyist, Dr. Herrnson opens up the Washington Post, turning first to Doonesbury, and then to the front page. No sports. No business roundup. His students will want to talk about the recent elections.

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A ruddy-cheeked man with a dark, trimmed beard, Dr. Herrnson, is the grandson of Eastern European Jewish immigrants who took their politics seriously. Dr. Herrnson is single. He grew up in Oceanside, on Long Island, N.Y.

He is on his second cup of coffee and has jotted down Thing To Do Today No. 13 on his note pad. Dr. Herrnson then turns to his previous night's notes for a lecture on the structure of congressional committees later in the day.

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He looks at his undergraduates with the same high esteem they have for him. "I went to a big state school myself," said Dr. Herrnson, who attended the State University of New York at Binghamton for his undergraduate years and the University of Wisconsin at Madison for his doctorate.

8:50 a.m. Dr. Herrnson leaves his home in the bedroom community of Hyattsville -- motto: "A good place to live since 1886" -- for Millard Tydings Hall, named for the late U.S. senator.

9:25 a.m. He is in his second-floor office, his herringbone jacket already abandoned over the back of a chair, and he flips on his computer to check his electronic mail. Three messages. He looks quickly at each, then bounds up a flight of stairs to the departmental office to brew a fresh pot of coffee.Dr. Herrnson checks the messages on his telephone's voice mail and opens his letters.

9:40 a.m. Dr. Herrnson calls to soothe an anxious graduate student and invites him to stop by.

He then calls a congressional staffer for the scoop on the wranglings among the Democratic House elders.

His desk is cluttered with unread journal articles. He'll get to them later today, he says. (He doesn't.)

10:07 a.m. Dr. Herrnson joins colleagues sitting at tables arranged in a horseshoe in a classroom. All eyes are on a job candidate, an Ivy League graduate student who will finish his dissertation on political economy this spring. The slender, slightly nervous young scholar tapes a map of China to the blackboard, and then gives his presentation, an important hurdle nTC in his pursuit of a College Park position. He came with sterling references, but the professors soon become restless during his highly theoretical talk.

10:51 a.m. After the presentation, several professors, including Dr. Herrnson, walk slowly back to Tydings Hall. The candidate probably won't get the job, they agree.

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11:25 a.m. Dr. Herrnson stops in the department offices to check his mail, comes back to his office. There are several messages waiting on his phone. "This is why you write at home," he says. "You don't have to deal with all of this."

He gives a student's paper a second read, then scrawls a grade on it.

11:49 a.m. He has been pressed to attend a lunch for the job candidate at the University Club.

1:55 p.m. Back in his office, Dr. Herrnson checks his Internet e-mail. He has 26 new messages, most from political scientists around the country, but decides not to read them all. "That was three hours," he says, stunned by how much time he spent with the job candidate.

2:09 p.m. Graduate student Bill Benfanti appears and is waved to a seat. Dr. Herrnson quickly puts him at ease about a rival dissertation covering similar terrain to Mr. Benfanti's, then the talk turns to state politics.

After Mr. Benfanti leaves, Dr. Herrnson pokes his head out of his office doorway to talk with his research assistant, Kirsten Andersen. He and Ms. Andersen, a graduate student originally from Denmark, are writing a paper comparing the congressional races of male and female candidates. She is compiling reams of data on the races, separating the contested races from the open seats, and comparing them by party, contributions, personal styles. All told, there are 469 different variables.

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The project will add only a few more lines on his 10-page curriculum vitae (as the academic's resume is known). But she will gain exposure in the world of political scientists she hopes to join.

2:43 p.m. Dr. Herrnson flips open the tenure review materials for Mark Graber, whose office is next door. Dr. Graber, a Yale Ph.D. with a law degree from Columbia, is considered a virtual lock.

3:10 p.m. He calls two friends who work on Capitol Hill, one a Democrat, one a Republican, to cajole them into talking to students. As well as offering insight, the two staffers will serve as contacts.

3:15 p.m. Dr. Herrnson calls his publisher at Congressional Quarterly in anticipation of the release of his newest book. It's his second this year -- a good year, he says happily. He looks once more through the notes for his class.

3:21 p.m. He bolts upstairs for another cup of coffee.

3:32 p.m. Seven seniors with internships on Capitol Hill sit in a narrow basement room. Dr. Herrnson, their adviser as well as their instructor, wants them to translate what they've seen into -- insight: What does the Republican sweep mean for politics and policy? "Parties are pervasive, but they're not part of the Constitution," Dr. Herrnson says. "What does Congress use parties for?"

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Tim Ryan, a senior who works for Georgia Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney, suggests: "Political parties help locally elected officials make national policy."

Dr. Herrnson nods. In the British system, political parties are like an iron cage, with internal divisiveness and public unity, he says. In the United States, a party functions more as an elastic tether, allowing a fair amount of independence within set limits.

6:05 p.m. Time to wrap up the class. After lingering a few minutes to answer a student's question, Dr. Herrnson heads back to Tydings Hall. He checks his voice mail again -- four messages. "I'm only going to return two of them now. I've had enough," he says.

He changes and takes a half-hour jog around campus and showers at the campus gym before returning home a few minutes past 8 p.m. "One of my professors said, 'If you always feel like you're not getting enough research done because you don't have enough time, then you're probably doing a good job, because you have more ideas than time,' " he says.

+ "I'm lucky. I like my job."


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