Thanks to a $2.5 million gift from James B. Hudak (MPP ‘71), the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy has established a new professorship for health policy.
Professor and associate dean Paula Lantz will be the inaugural Hudak Professor. The Regents of the University of Michigan approved the professorship and appointed Lantz for a renewable, five-year term from March 2019 until August 2024 on March 28.
The James B. Hudak Professorship of Health Policy will support a faculty member whose research explores health policy issues and aims to address the problems in the U.S. health care system.
The named professorship reflects and advances the Ford School’s strength in health policy. The school was recently ranked the #3 graduate health policy program in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
Hudak recently retired after a highly successful career in health care. His roles included chief administrative officer at CRC Health Group and global managing partner of Accenture’s health care practice. While with UnitedHealth Group, the largest health insurer in the United States, Hudak held the post of corporate chief information officer, followed by chief executive officer of United Behavioral Health. He served as the executive chairman of Paradigm Outcomes until his retirement in 2018.
He currently serves as the treasurer-tax collector for his home county of Napa, California, a position that draws on his early career experiences in local government, including as assistant city manager of Ann Arbor.
“Working in the health care field for the past 30 years I witnessed first-hand that our system is sorely in need of fact-based health policy, which is what the Ford School is all about,” said Hudak. “Through this professorship, the Ford School can leverage someone who will influence generations of students to make a difference by developing and defending better policies.”
An active alumnus, Hudak has served on the Ford School Committee for more than 20 years, and chaired the most recent capital campaign.
“Jim’s gift unites two of the things he is most passionate about: educating students in public policy and using research-driven evidence to improve our nation’s health care system,” said Michael S. Barr, Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy. “This generous gift is among the many ways in which Jim has tirelessly given back to the Ford School. We are immensely grateful for his long-time support and his friendship.”
Paula Lantz is a social demographer who conducts policy-focused research regarding the role of medical care along with social factors such as housing, income security and education in the health of communities and populations.
“Paula is a leader in the field of health policy. She is thoughtfully researching how to achieve better population health outcomes through public policy, and we’re grateful that she will continue to share her passion and wisdom with students here at Michigan as the first Hudak Professor,” said Barr.
Currently Lantz directs the University of Michigan Policies for Action Research Hub, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is engaged in a number of research projects investigating public policy approaches to reducing social inequities in health. She is leading a project regarding the potential for and challenges associated with using social impact bonds to fund public/private partnerships aimed at improving population health.
“The Ford School is an ideal place for me to teach and conduct research on both health care policy and the many social factors and policies related to health inequities within populations,” said Lantz. “I am eager to engage in new research and continue educating the next generation of health policymakers with new resources thanks to Mr. Hudak’s generous gift.”
Lantz received an MA in sociology from Washington University, St. Louis, and an MS in epidemiology and PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Social Insurance.