Core faculty

Celeste M. Watkins-Hayes

Jean E. Fairfax Collegiate Professor of Public Policy; University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor; Professor of Sociology

Celeste Watkins-Hayes is the Jean E. Fairfax Collegiate Professor of Public Policy, University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor, and professor of sociology at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and Department of Sociology. She is an author and educator widely credited for her research at the intersection of inequality, public policy, and institutions, with a special focus on urban poverty and race, class, and gender studies. Dr. Watkins-Hayes has published two books, numerous articles in journals and edited volumes, and pieces in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Chicago Magazine. She has been widely quoted in the popular press as a national expert on social inequality and HIV/AIDS. The release of her latest book Remaking a Life: How Women Living with HIV/AIDS Confront Inequality (2019, University of California Press) has been covered by The Chicago Tribune, Ms. Magazine, EBONY, Chicago Public Radio, New York Public Radio, Detroit Public Radio, POZ Magazine, PBS Newshour, Chicago Tonight, and several other outlets across the country. The book is the 2020 winner of the Eliot Freidson Outstanding Publication Award bestowed by the American Sociological Association Medical Sociology Section and the co-winner of the Distinguished Book Award Section from the ASA Section on Sex and Gender. Remaking A Life was also the 2020 winner of the Betty and Alfred McClung Lee Book Award from the Association for Humanist Sociology, co-winner of the Alison Piepmeier Book Prize from the National Women's Studies Association, a Gold Medalist on Women’s Issues from the Independent Publisher Book Awards, and a 2020 PROSE Book Award finalist from the Association of American Publishers. Watkins-Hayes' first book, The New Welfare Bureaucrats: Entanglements of Race, Class, and Policy Reform, was a Finalist for the 2009 C. Wright Mills Book Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems and the 2011 Max Weber Book Award from the American Sociological Association. Dr. Watkins-Hayes holds a PhD and MA in sociology from Harvard University and a BA from Spelman College, where she graduated summa cum laude. She served on the board of trustees of Spelman College for over a decade in various leadership roles, leading the search process for the college’s 10th president. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Educational Background

  • PhD in sociology, Harvard University (2003)
  • MA in sociology, Harvard University (2000)
  • BA summa cum laude, Spelman College (1996)

Recent Publications