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Shaefer named associate dean for research and policy engagement

June 25, 2020

H. Luke Shaefer, the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, has been appointed the associate dean for research and policy engagement. He will begin his three-year term on July 1, 2020. 

A scholar of social welfare policy, Shaefer has committed his career to effectively engage policymakers with rigorous research and evidence-based policy to create positive change in communities. Under his leadership as the inaugural director of the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions, he has spearheaded more than 70 research and service projects, to provide timely and accessible local-level analysis that is responsive to community needs and interests.  

In November 2019, Shaefer was named special counselor to the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). In this role, he provides analysis, advises policymakers, and facilitates discussions on human services and anti-poverty policy. He also serves on the State of Michigan Commission on Community Action and Economic Opportunity, which is charged with reducing the causes, conditions, and effects of poverty and promoting social and economic opportunities that foster self-sufficiency for low-income people.

As the United States confronts the economic fallout from the coronavirus, Shaefer has been actively engaged as a public voice in the New York Times and other outlets on the consequences facing low-income families, and in developing policies to help families weather the crisis here in Michigan. Most recently, he has played a significant role to ensure low-income families stay connected to heat and electricity during the pandemic and combat rising food insecurity among CTE students.

As associate dean for research and policy engagement, Shaefer will advance strategic initiatives to further the school’s cutting-edge research and increase its policy impact. At the Ford School, we have an unparalleled combination of excellence in research, and deep engagement with communities and policy-makers.  Shaefer will ensure we’re at the forefront.

Please join us in welcoming Professor Shaefer to his new and well-deserved leadership position at the Ford School.


H. Luke Shaefer is the inaugural Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. He also serves as the inaugural director of Poverty Solutions, an interdisciplinary, presidential initiative at U–M that seeks to partner community stakeholders and scholars to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty. Shaefer's research on poverty and social welfare policy in the United States has been published in top peer–reviewed academic journals in the fields of public policy, social work, public health, health services research, and history, and his work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and U.S. Census Bureau among other sources. He has presented his research at the White House and before numerous federal agencies, has testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, and has advised a number of the nation's largest human service providers. His work has been cited in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Economist, The Atlantic, and Los Angeles Times, among other media outlets, and he has been featured on such programs as Marketplace and CNBC's Nightly Business Report. His book with Kathryn Edin, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2015 by the New York Times Book Review, and won the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism among other awards. Shaefer serves on the Commission on Community Action and Economic Opportunity for the State of Michigan. He received his B.A. in politics from Oberlin College and A.M. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration.