Cole Blease Graham, Jr. earned his PhD in American state and local government from the University of South Carolina (USC) in 1971. A native South Carolinian, Blease graduated from Irmo High School, studied government and economics at Wofford College, and earned a master's degree in social sciences at Northwestern Louisiana State College. He earned a second master's degree in governmental administration at the Fels Institute of Local and State Government at the University of Pennsylvania.
Since entering USC in 1966, Blease has studied state and local government institutions and politics and their connections with public administration theory and practice. His special focus has been on political processes and administrative issues in the American South and South Carolina.
In 1971, Blease was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, and also research associate in the Bureau of Governmental Research and Services, where he worked with the Bureau director, Robert Stoudemire, in management capacity development programs for a variety of South Carolina state agencies and local governments with funding from HEW and HUD. Before promotion to professor in 1994, Blease was a consultant to several health institutions, other governmental agencies and private corporations.
Blease has also served over the years in a variety of administrative capacities at the University, including vice chair of the department, director of the department's MPA program, interim dean and dean of the College of Criminal Justice, associate dean for Student Academic Services in the College of Liberal Arts, and interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts. He is the author, co-author or co-editor of seven books and more than eighty articles, book chapters, field reports, and published items. He recently completed two book chapters on South Carolina elections in 2008. His major publications include South Carolina Politics and Government, The South Carolina State Constitution: A Reference Guide, Managing the Public Organization, and Handbook of Court Administration and Management.