The Institute for Social Research announces the launch of its first research professorship: the Robert F. Schoeni Research Professorship

The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR) is pleased to announce the launch of its first research professorship, the Robert F. Schoeni Research Professorship. This professorship honors Robert Schoeni, whose career has exemplified a commitment to excellence in research, teaching, and training. As a valuable new resource for ISR to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, the Schoeni Professorship will strengthen interdisciplinary social science research and build partnerships between ISR and other units across the University of Michigan, including the Ford School, where he is a professor of public policy.

As a professor of economics as well, and research professor at ISR, Schoeni conducted groundbreaking research that fostered interdisciplinary partnerships across a range of social science disciplines. Notably, Schoeni was the Co-Director of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from 2009 to 2012, studying issues of poverty, income, family formation, wealth, and health.

The Schoeni Professorship will provide faculty with opportunities to accomplish important work by supporting research related to Schoeni’s passions, such as economics, population studies, demography, health and aging, survey methodology and public policy. The professorship will support these meaningful research efforts in perpetuity, generating immeasurable impact for many years to come.

Photo of Bob Schoeni delivering remarks to the Ford School graduating classes of 2007
Bob Schoeni delivered remarks to the Ford School graduating classes of 2007 (Photo by Michigan Photography)

By supporting collaborative and innovative scholarship, the Robert F. Schoeni Research Professorship will play an essential role in ISR’s future success. “Creating named professorships are signal events for academic units, and can have profound effects on their trajectory,” said Matthew Shapiro, director of the Survey Research Center (SRC) at ISR. “They provide resources, recognition, and continuity that abet the work of a successful unit, and can be a point of inflection that accelerates our excellence.”

The effort to establish the Schoeni Professorship was spearheaded by James S. House, and his wife, Wendy Fisher House. James is a former SRC Director and Angus Campbell Distinguished University Professor Emeritus; Wendy is a clinical psychologist who began her career conducting research at the University of Michigan. “In a time of increasing difficulty,” said James, “the response of the donors to this effort has been a beacon of light and promise for Wendy and I, and the values that led us to jumpstart this process.”

James and Wendy headed a dedicated leadership committee that included Joseph and Diane Lynn Hotz, Linda G. Martin, Mary Beth Ofstedal and Mick P. Couper, and Robert J. and Anne Marie Willis, among many other friends and colleagues of Schoeni. “James and Wendy had a bold and inspired vision for this professorship. I’m really delighted that ISR and this great group of donors have come together to make it happen,” said ISR Director David Lam.

Schoeni thanked the donors who supported the professorship at an event in the fall of 2020. In a statement read by his wife, Gretchen Spreitzer, he said, “Having my name linked to ISR through the professorship is a tremendous honor. I know that the professorship is a valuable and historic investment that will reap returns indefinitely. I can’t thank you enough.”

ISR will now begin the process toward searching for the inaugural Robert F. Schoeni Research Professor.

This article was prepared by the Institute for Social Research and originally published here.