Diana O’Brien Named Inaugural Recipient of Endowed Kornitzer Distinguished Professorship

Diana O'Brien, Professor of Political Science, has been named as the inaugural recipient of the newly established, endowed Bela Kornitzer Distinguished Professorship. Established by community leader Noémi Neidorff in honor of her late uncle Bela Kornitzer, an acclaimed author, historian, and journalist from Hungary. Mr. Kornitzer authored American Fathers & Sons (1952) and the best-seller The Great American Heritage (1955) and had major cover stories and exclusive interviews with the likes of Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, John Kennedy, and Douglas MacArthur, among many other notables.

The Kornitzer Distinguished Professorship inaugural recipient is Diana O'Brien, who studies the causes and consequences of women's political representation in democracies across the globe. Her research examines gender and political parties, executive branch politics, and citizens' responses to women's presence in politics. Professor O'Brien has published articles on these topics in leading journals including the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Politics & Gender, and Comparative Politics. News coverage of Professor O'Brien’s work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, MSNBC, and multiple international outlets.

Noémi Neidorff, a classically trained musician and an active leader in the arts community, is a vice chair of the board of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and she serves on the executive committees of the Manhattan School of Music and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. She played a significant role in founding the St. Louis radio station Classic 107.3 FM, which focuses heavily on classical music and the arts. A native of Budapest, Mrs. Neidorff fled the country with her parents during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, and the family settled in New Jersey. Mrs. Neidorff became a classical pianist, earning bachelors and masters degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and continuing her postgraduate studies at Columbia University. She and her late husband, Michael Neidorff, moved to St. Louis in 1985 when he accepted a position as president and chief executive officer of Physicians Health Plan of Greater St. Louis. From 1996 to 2022, Michael served as chairman and CEO of St. Louis–based Centene Corporation, which grew substantially under his leadership to become a Fortune 24 company and one of the nation's largest Medicaid managed-care providers.