By Olan Beam, Photography By John Walsh

Professor Extraordinaire Dr. Larry Sabato BB&T Perspectives rotunda

Dr. Sabato on the second floor of the Rotunda at U.Va.

Dr. Larry Sabato has achieved many accolades, knows some of the most powerful people in the country, is one of the most quoted political analysts of our time and is a best-selling author. Yet in each of these roles, he would describe himself as a teacher first and foremost.

A professor of political science and director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia (U.Va.), Sabato reminds you of that special teacher you remember to this day. He is gracious and friendly and at the same time incredibly intelligent and worldly. He chats with a student manning the university’s help desk in the Rotunda in the same focused and engaging fashion he used when speaking (or maybe arguing) with Bill O’Reilly just the day before in a segment of “The O’Reilly Factor.” When he turns his attention toward you, you feel his interest and warmth. One of the primary characteristics he describes as critical to political success is one of his strengths: a love of people.

People Person

Professor Extraordinaire Dr. Larry Sabato BB&T Perspectives office“You have to be a people person. You have to love people and love politics to be a successful politician,” Sabato said when asked what makes for an effective politician. “Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton certainly are good examples of presidents with that characteristic.”

Sabato developed an interest in politics and understood the value of education at an early age. He grew up in Norfolk, Va., in the 1950s with two loving parents, both devout Catholics, who emphasized getting a good education and encouraged lots of reading. “I had an idyllic middle-class childhood. While my parents didn’t have college educations and we didn’t have a lot of extra money, they were determined to give me every advantage. I wish I had thanked them more often for their sacrifices,” he said.

His father, a World War II veteran, believed in the importance of being an engaged citizen. “My father and I talked politics frequently. I grew up reading newspapers and news magazines, and watching TV news,” Sabato said. “No doubt, though, John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign was what led to my interest in politics as a career. At the time, supporting the first Catholic nominee for president since Al Smith in 1928 was the eighth sacrament.”

At Home With Thomas Jefferson

After high school, Sabato chose to go to the University of Virginia. “I was admitted to Princeton as well as U.Va. My father argued I would be better off coming out of school with no debt, so I could pursue a graduate degree. As usual, he was right,” Sabato said. His link to the university was cemented as an undergraduate, serving as student body president and forming a lifelong friendship with Dr. Edgar Shannon, president of U.Va. from 1959-1974. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in government, he studied at Princeton for a year, won a Rhodes Scholarship and went on to earn his doctorate from The Queen’s College, Oxford, England, in less than two years. While he loves politics and worked several years on campaigns, he decided his true calling was teaching. In 1978 he returned to U.Va. as a faculty member.

Professor Extraordinaire Dr. Larry Sabato BB&T Perspectives

(From Left) Pavilion IV on The Lawn at U.Va.; Dr. Sabato shares insight about historic memorabilia in his home.

During his tenure, Sabato created the Center for Politics, won an Emmy for a PBS documentary on the dysfunctional U.S. Senate that he coproduced, won the Thomas Jefferson Award—U.Va.’s highest honor—and to date has taught more than 15,000 students at U.Va. and another 100,000 in his free online course “The Kennedy Half-Century,” available on Apple’s iTunes U. When asked what has meant the most during his career he said, “The best choice I’ve made has been to dedicate my life’s work to the University of Virginia and the students who have come through Charlottesville. I still pinch myself frequently when I look around and realize how fortunate I have been.”

Sabato may have one of the best views U.Va. has to offer. He resides in one of the historic Pavilions on the lawn of Thomas Jefferson’s “Academical Village.” It could not be a more appropriate home for a scholar as committed as Sabato, given the concept of the “Academical Village” is to “encourage the interaction between scholars and students and enliven the pursuit of knowledge,” according to the university.

Leadership Insights

While obviously succeeding as an educator, Sabato has also become one of the most accurate political analysts in the country. During the course of the 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 Senate, House and governors races, he accurately predicted 98 percent of the outcomes. Sabato came within one electoral vote of predicting the exact Electoral College result in the 2008 election. He is a highly sought-after speaker, a frequent participant on political talk shows, and a regular columnist for Politico.

As an expert on political leadership, Sabato has a unique insight into what we should look for in a good leader. “I’ve learned the most effective leadership isn’t dominating. It’s supportive. On a personal level, a leader has to expect criticism, and lots of it. In fact, when the criticism slackens, you’re probably not doing enough to make a difference. As for political leaders, instead of looking to see how many boxes politicians check off on our personal agendas, we ought to ask some basic questions: Who can make government work efficiently and effectively? Who can help foster unity by reminding us of what we have in common, instead of dividing us for partisan or ideological gain?”

Dr. Larry Sabato created the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and is a frequent participant on political talk shows. He is a prolific author with 25 books published. His works include Feeding Frenzy, A More Perfect Constitution and Pendulum Swing. His most recent book, The Kennedy Half Century, is a New York Times best seller.

Professor-Extraordinaire-Dr.-Larry-Sabato-BB&T-Perspectives-Hillary-Clinton-Kennedy

With the demands of teaching, conducting research, directing the Center for Politics, writing and serving as political commentator, how does Sabato find time for a personal life and to relax? “Personal life? Relax? Can you define those terms?” he asked with a smile. “What saves me is the variety of the work I am privileged to do, and I meet lots of fascinating people. What’s not to like?”

Clearly, for Sabato the old adage appears to be true: If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.

Dr. Larry Sabato’s BB&T Wealth advisor is Tom Baker.

By Olan Beam, Photography By John Walsh

Professor Extraordinaire Dr. Larry Sabato BB&T Perspectives rotunda

Dr. Sabato on the second floor of the Rotunda at U.Va.

Dr. Larry Sabato has achieved many accolades, knows some of the most powerful people in the country, is one of the most quoted political analysts of our time and is a best-selling author. Yet in each of these roles, he would describe himself as a teacher first and foremost.

A professor of political science and director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia (U.Va.), Sabato reminds you of that special teacher you remember to this day. He is gracious and friendly and at the same time incredibly intelligent and worldly. He chats with a student manning the university’s help desk in the Rotunda in the same focused and engaging fashion he used when speaking (or maybe arguing) with Bill O’Reilly just the day before in a segment of “The O’Reilly Factor.” When he turns his attention toward you, you feel his interest and warmth. One of the primary characteristics he describes as critical to political success is one of his strengths: a love of people.

People Person

“You have to be a people person. You have to love people and love politics to be a successful politician,” Sabato said when asked what makes for an effective politician. “Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton certainly are good examples of presidents with that characteristic.”

Sabato developed an interest in politics and understood the value of education at an early age. He grew up in Norfolk, Va., in the 1950s with two loving parents, both devout Catholics, who emphasized getting a good education and encouraged lots of reading. “I had an idyllic middle-class childhood. While my parents didn’t have college educations and we didn’t have a lot of extra money, they were determined to give me every advantage. I wish I had thanked them more often for their sacrifices,” he said.

His father, a World War II veteran, believed in the importance of being an engaged citizen. “My father and I talked politics frequently. I grew up reading newspapers and news magazines, and watching TV news,” Sabato said. “No doubt, though, John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign was what led to my interest in politics as a career. At the time, supporting the first Catholic nominee for president since Al Smith in 1928 was the eighth sacrament.”

Professor Extraordinaire Dr. Larry Sabato BB&T Perspectives office

At Home With Thomas Jefferson

After high school, Sabato chose to go to the University of Virginia. “I was admitted to Princeton as well as U.Va. My father argued I would be better off coming out of school with no debt, so I could pursue a graduate degree. As usual, he was right,” Sabato said. His link to the university was cemented as an undergraduate, serving as student body president and forming a lifelong friendship with Dr. Edgar Shannon, president of U.Va. from 1959-1974. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in government, he studied at Princeton for a year, won a Rhodes Scholarship and went on to earn his doctorate from The Queen’s College, Oxford, England, in less than two years. While he loves politics and worked several years on campaigns, he decided his true calling was teaching. In 1978 he returned to U.Va. as a faculty member.

Professor Extraordinaire Dr. Larry Sabato BB&T Perspectives

(From Left) Pavilion IV on The Lawn at U.Va.; Dr. Sabato shares insight about historic memorabilia in his home.

During his tenure, Sabato created the Center for Politics, won an Emmy for a PBS documentary on the dysfunctional U.S. Senate that he coproduced, won the Thomas Jefferson Award—U.Va.’s highest honor—and to date has taught more than 15,000 students at U.Va. and another 100,000 in his free online course “The Kennedy Half-Century,” available on Apple’s iTunes U. When asked what has meant the most during his career he said, “The best choice I’ve made has been to dedicate my life’s work to the University of Virginia and the students who have come through Charlottesville. I still pinch myself frequently when I look around and realize how fortunate I have been.”

Sabato may have one of the best views U.Va. has to offer. He resides in one of the historic Pavilions on the lawn of Thomas Jefferson’s “Academical Village.” It could not be a more appropriate home for a scholar as committed as Sabato, given the concept of the “Academical Village” is to “encourage the interaction between scholars and students and enliven the pursuit of knowledge,” according to the university.

Leadership Insights

While obviously succeeding as an educator, Sabato has also become one of the most accurate political analysts in the country. During the course of the 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 Senate, House and governors races, he accurately predicted 98 percent of the outcomes. Sabato came within one electoral vote of predicting the exact Electoral College result in the 2008 election. He is a highly sought-after speaker, a frequent participant on political talk shows, and a regular columnist for Politico.

As an expert on political leadership, Sabato has a unique insight into what we should look for in a good leader. “I’ve learned the most effective leadership isn’t dominating. It’s supportive. On a personal level, a leader has to expect criticism, and lots of it. In fact, when the criticism slackens, you’re probably not doing enough to make a difference. As for political leaders, instead of looking to see how many boxes politicians check off on our personal agendas, we ought to ask some basic questions: Who can make government work efficiently and effectively? Who can help foster unity by reminding us of what we have in common, instead of dividing us for partisan or ideological gain?”

Dr. Larry Sabato created the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and is a frequent participant on political talk shows. He is a prolific author with 25 books published. His works include Feeding Frenzy, A More Perfect Constitution and Pendulum Swing. His most recent book, The Kennedy Half Century, is a New York Times best seller.

Professor-Extraordinaire-Dr.-Larry-Sabato-BB&T-Perspectives-Hillary-Clinton-Kennedy

With the demands of teaching, conducting research, directing the Center for Politics, writing and serving as political commentator, how does Sabato find time for a personal life and to relax? “Personal life? Relax? Can you define those terms?” he asked with a smile. “What saves me is the variety of the work I am privileged to do, and I meet lots of fascinating people. What’s not to like?”

Clearly, for Sabato the old adage appears to be true: If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.

Dr. Larry Sabato’s BB&T Wealth advisor is Tom Baker.