Milton C. Cummings Jr., a distinguished scholar of American government and an exceedingly popular professor of political science at Johns Hopkins for nearly 40 years, died of prostate cancer on Aug. 10 at a son's home in New Vernon, N.J. He was 74.
For nearly four decades, Cummings offered commentary on congressional elections, party politics, and then, later in his career, government policies on the arts. He also was the co-author of a milestone textbook on American politics, Democracy Under Pressure: An Introduction to the American Political System, which has sold nearly a million hardback copies.
Cummings, a former chairman of the Political Science Department, retired from Johns Hopkins in 2004. During his time at the university, Cummings built a reputation as one of the Homewood campus's most beloved professors, renowned for his kindness and good-natured spirit.
Cummings joined the Hopkins faculty as an associate professor in 1965 from a job at the Brookings Institution. In 1968, he was promoted to professor and served as department chairman from 1970 to 1972.
His popularity as a professor was irrefutable. His classes were always full and often oversubscribed. A resident of Washington, D.C., he frequently stayed overnight in his office on the Homewood campus during the school year, both to minimize his commuting burden and to enable greater interaction with students.
Richard Katz, a professor of political science who first met Cummings in the early 1970s, said that Cummings was astoundingly dedicated to his students, for whom he always found time.
"I sometimes suggested we needed to find a disused church or railway station to accommodate the crowds of students waiting to see him," Katz said. "He took so much time with each student. The demand simply exceeded any normal office hours."
Cummings' survivors included three children, Christopher, Jonathan, and Susan; and nine grandchildren.