Carolyn Long grew up in Southern Oregon, where her mother worked as a waitress and her father worked a variety of jobs until they moved to Brookings to open a family business, John’s Fresh Produce. Carolyn worked at the store after school and during the summer, along with her sister and three brothers. She learned the value of hard work, the importance of community, and the joys and difficulties of starting and running a small business.
After graduating from Brookings Harbor High School in 1984, Carolyn attended the University of Oregon. While a student at Oregon, she competed in speech and debate on the University’s nationally-ranked Forensics program. She graduated in 1989 with degrees in Political Science, and Rhetoric and Communication. When not attending class, Carolyn paid for college by working as an Assistant Produce Manager at Safeway.
Immediately after college, Carolyn went to Rutgers University in New Jersey to pursue a PhD in Political Science. She continued to return home during the summer months to work at John's Produce and on the small family farm, where they grew raspberries and other produce for the store. Carolyn started making and selling jam in 1991, and was thrilled to receive the grand prize at the Curry County Fair for her nectarine-pineapple recipe.
In 1995, Carolyn was hired by Washington State University Vancouver. She has worked there ever since, both as a professor and in several administrative and leadership positions. Her research interests have focused on American Institutions, Public Law, American Public Policy and Public Civility. She has authored two books: Religious Freedom and Indian Rights: The Case of Oregon v. Smith, and Mapp v. Ohio: Guarding against Unreasonable Searches and Seizures. Carolyn was also a Fulbright Scholar in Slovenia at the University of Ljubljana School of Social Sciences.
In 2014, she started the Initiative for Public Deliberation (IPD), a student-led program aimed at strengthening democratic government by replacing rigid partisanship with listening and conversation. In 2016, Carolyn became the inaugural Distinguished Professor for Civic Education and Public Civility, housed in the Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service, and also the Director for Strategic Partnerships at Washington State University Vancouver. She has taken a leave from these positions as she pursues public office.
Carolyn has been awarded the Washington State University’s President’s Award for Leadership and Engagement (2015), and the Washington State University College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Institutional Service Award (2014). In 2017, Carolyn was awarded the Iris H-RoC Award, which honors women in the community who have promoted civil discourse, teamwork, collaboration, and cooperation.
Carolyn met her husband, Kevin at the University of Oregon in 1984, and they dated for eleven years and one day before marrying in 1995. Their daughter Tennyson was born in 2005. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, fishing, traveling, wrestling matches with her King Shepherd, Ljubica, and thinking up unique jam recipes.