May 4-10, 2001
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U.Va.'s Seven Society honors graduate teaching assistants

Colleagues remember Meloy as dedicated, hard working

Study finds wide variation in children's experiences with first-grade classrooms
Police chief's watch ending after 17 years
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Alison Meloy Colleagues remember Meloy as dedicated, hard working

By Matt Kelly

Alison Meloy was intense about politics.

Meloy, 28, a graduate student and teaching assistant slain in her apartment between April 21 and 25, was remembered fondly by her friends and colleagues.

Tom Guterbock, who hired Meloy to work at the Center for Survey Research, said she worked full-time and was a part-time student completing a master’s degree in government and foreign affairs. But her passion was American politics.

“She had an incredible knowledge of U.S. politics,” said Dale Lawton, director of the Project on Campaign Conduct at the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership. “She would know who had won congressional elections, going back several cycles. For fun she would watch tapes of old political speeches from conventions. Some people have football parties, she would have an annual state of the union address party going on while the president was speaking.”

Meloy was in charge of conducting surveys for a study of the Robb/Allen senate race, which suited her interest in politics and her polling background.

“She was instrumental in overseeing the surveying,” said Paul Freedman, assistant professor in the Department of Government and Foreign Affairs and Meloy’s adviser in her first year at U.Va. “She was a perfectionist, real diligent and very careful, which is just what you want in this kind of work.”

Last fall’s election dispute in Florida was a motherlode for political junkies and Lawton said Meloy stayed abreast of the situation. He said whenever he found a new article or different angle on the controversy, he found that Meloy had already read and analyzed the data.

“She was right into it,” said Freedman. “She was into the minutia of it. Her father lives in Palm Beach and they were back and forth about the ballot all the time.”

Meloy came to Charlottesville in 1998, after graduating from Swarthmore and forming her own political polling company working for Democrat candidates. She and her partner named it Trotter Associates, after their Swarthmore residence hall. From there, she worked for a large survey mailing company, building up the experience that brought her to Guterbock’s attention.

“She was very bright and had a quickness of thought in marketing things,” he said. “She was very assertive from her point of view and loved a good argument.”

Lawton said her intensity sometimes made her difficult to work with.

“She forced you to think about things in a different way,” he said.

“She had a passion and a dedication and a pride in her work,” said Freedman. “She was proud of what she had done at the CSR and at the Sorsensen Institute. She felt that it was a job well done. A lot of people don’t have that pride in their work.”

There was also a contradiction in Meloy. She was pursuing an academic career, getting research published and analyzing data, but she also craved the rough and tumble of politics. She had been the South Carolina coordinator in Paul Tsongas’ doomed presidential bid and she thought she might work as a consultant with future political campaigns.

Meloy’s other great passion was her dog, an American Eskimo Spitz named Ariel.
“Ariel spent time in the office with Alison,” said Lawton. “He was a good office dog.”
Lawton said he and another co-worker took the dog as soon as the police released it from the house.

“He was sad and confused and he drank a lot of water and then he didn’t feel good after that,” Lawton said.

The investigation into Meloy’s death is ongoing.


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