Shaefer receives one of two 2021 presidential awards for public engagement

February 14, 2022

The University of Michigan is honoring faculty members Ford School associate dean H. Luke Shaefer and Marisa C. Eisenberg with presidential awards for public engagement, recognizing their contributions to significantly impact society and address the challenges communities face every day.

An event honoring Eisenberg and Shaefer is planned for April 11.

Shaefer, director of Poverty Solutions, professor of social work in the School of Social Work, and the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, will receive the 2021 President’s Award for Public Impact. This award honors individuals whose research and expertise tangibly addresses a major public-sector challenge.

Shaefer’s work on the expanded Child Tax Credit, and his impassioned dedication to leveraging research to help communities and advance social policy, were referenced in his nomination. The expansion of the tax credit was motivated in part by Shaefer’s work, on which he partnered with the city of Detroit.

Ford School Dean Michael Barr nominated Shaefer for the award because of his demonstrated commitment to public engagement through educating students and communities, advocacy and outreach and working to effect change by, among other efforts, testifying before Congress.

“I’m so proud of Luke, and so inspired by his work,” Barr said. “He’s dedicated his career to eradicating poverty, and he goes about that goal with both rigorous research and authentic engagement with communities. We’ve seen the impact of Luke’s research and advocacy most recently in the expanded Child Tax Credit — hailed as one of the most successful anti-poverty measures ever signed into law.”

“It means a great deal to me to be at a university that has an award like this honoring public engagement. I think it really lifts up the importance of this kind of work,” Shaefer said. “I’m deeply honored to be a recipient because I greatly admire the scholars who have received it in the past.

“At Poverty Solutions, our work is always done in partnership with communities and policymakers, with the goal of fostering change to systems that empower families. I hope this award will elevate the work of our incredible team and our amazing partners.

“There are inspiring colleagues all across the university whose work is positively impacting communities all around the world. And the partners from outside the university with whom I’ve gotten to collaborate teach me things and inspire me every day.”

Eisenberg, associate professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health, and associate professor of mathematics and of complex systems in LSA, will receive the 2021 President’s Award for National and State Leadership. It honors individuals who provide sustained, dedicated and influential leadership and service in major national or state capacities.

Eisenberg was nominated for her contributions to the public health response amid the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically her work modeling trajectories of the pandemic and generating predictive scenarios to help state policymakers determine next steps in the response.

Her work has not only been integral to the response efforts but has been untiring for two years as she continues to present weekly forecasts to state leaders and meet regularly with policymakers, said Belinda Needham, who nominated Eisenberg for the award.

“As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Eisenberg’s commitment to serving the nation and the state of Michigan is as strong as it was in February of 2020, when she first started modeling trajectories of the pandemic, said Needham, associate professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology.

“Her work with policymakers at all levels has helped ensure that our leaders have the information they need to protect the public’s health. Furthermore, her work with journalists has helped provide the public with the information we need to protect ourselves.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award.”

“I’m honored to receive this award,” Eisenberg said, noting that the dedication to the work she witnessed throughout the pandemic has been inspiring. “I’m deeply grateful, both for the opportunity to contribute to the COVID-19 response and for the truly incredible teams that I’ve had the privilege of working with, both at U-M and at the state level.”

She added that she hopes the relationships born of the COVID-19 response will continue to help institutions thrive.

“There have been so many new collaborations built — both within U-M, and between U-M and our government and community partners,” she said. “I hope that these partnerships will continue to grow and strengthen even beyond our COVID-19 response work.”

About the awards

Register for the award event

This story was written by Erica Colaianne, 
U-M Public Engagement & Impact. The original can be seen here.