hero image
Leonardo Villalón - University of Florida. Gainesville, FL, US

Leonardo Villalón Leonardo Villalón

Professor | University of Florida

Gainesville, FL, UNITED STATES

Leonardo A. Villalón is dean of the International Center and a professor of political science and African studies.


Leonardo A. Villalón is dean of the International Center and a professor of political science and African studies. His research specialization is in contemporary African politics and he has focused in particular on issues of Islam and politics and on democratization in the Sahelian countries of Senegal, Mali and Niger. Leonardo's current research focuses comparatively on religion and the debates on democracy in Senegal, Mali and Niger, as well as religion and educational reform in those countries. He is also interested in social change and electoral dynamics across the Francophone Sahel.

Areas of Expertise (8)

West Africa

Post-Colonial Studies


Developing World


Emerging Markets

Islam and Muslim Studies

Religion & Politics

Media Appearances (5)

UF Summer study abroad trips canceled, moved to end of Summer

The Independent Florida Alligator  online


The UF International Center is deciding on a case-by-case basis whether the more than 500 study abroad programs currently available should operate, UFIC Dean Leonardo Villalón said. He said some programs have been or will be canceled because they haven’t fulfilled their enrollment quotas.

view more

University of Florida is a top producer of Fulbright U.S. Scholars

UF News  online


“Despite the changes brought about by the pandemic, the Fulbright mission remains the same and the International Center continues to support faculty and staff interested in exploring international exchange and collaborations through Fulbright”, said Dr. Leonardo Villalón, Dean of the International Center. “We feel honored to be a part of Fulbright’s 75 Anniversary Celebration.”

view more

A Democratic Breakthrough for Niger?

World Politics Review  online


Voters in Niger will return to the polls this Sunday for a runoff election that will determine outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou’s successor. The subsequent transition will mark the first time in the country’s history that one elected president replaces another.

view more

Pandemic pushes steep drop in foreign college students

ABC News  online


“The confluence of the pandemic and these policies has created an incredibly tough situation,” said Leonardo Villalon, dean of the University of Florida's International Center. “International higher education is under the greatest stress it has been in decades.”

view more

Democratic Struggle, Institutional Reform, and State Resilience in the African Sahel

Foreign Affairs  online


his excellent collection of studies of six Francophone countries in the Sahel region of West Africa (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal) examines the impact of democratization on state building since the early 1990s. The supporters of democratization assumed that it would produce more legitimate and effective central states.

view more


Articles (1)

The Undoing of a Semi-authoritarian Regime: The Term Limit Debate and the Fall of Blaise Compaoré in Burkina Faso

The Politics of Challenging Presidential Term Limits in Africa

Daniel Eizenga and Leonardo A. Villalón


After twenty-seven years in power, a wave of popular protest against an expected effort to change constitutional term limit provisions forced President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso to resign and flee the country in late 2014. In this chapter, we argue that the surprising collapse of Compaoré’s seemingly well-entrenched semi-authoritarian regime was the outcome of long processes of institutional debates and incremental reform, which ultimately undermined Compaoré’s control.

view more



Leonardo Villalón Publication Leonardo Villalón Publication Leonardo Villalón Publication



loading image loading image loading image loading image


Interview with Leonardo A. Villalón, University of Florida April 2017


Affiliations (8)

  • The Center for African Studies
  • The Trans-Saharan Elections Project (TSEP)
  • The UF Sahel Research Group
  • The West African Research Association (WARA)
  • The Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC)
  • The Africa Power and Politics Programme (APPP)
  • The WARA Peace Initiative in West Africa
  • The Journal of Modern African Studies