Cambridge, MA – David T. Ellwood, Scott M. Black Professor of Political Economy at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), has been named director of the School’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, it was announced today by HKS Dean Douglas Elmendorf.  He will begin his appointment on July 1.

Ellwood, who first joined the Harvard faculty in 1980, served as the eighth dean of Harvard Kennedy School from July 2004 through June 2015. Under his leadership, the School significantly strengthened its financial position, doubled the amount of annual student financial aid, instituted new joint degree programs, and started a major campus transformation.

Earlier this year, Ellwood was named chair of the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, a new collaboration of prominent scholars and practitioners established with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the Urban Institute to create compelling strategies to dramatically expand ladders for economic and social advancement among the poor.

Recognized as one of the nation’s leading scholars on poverty and welfare, Ellwood’s work has been credited with significantly affecting public policy in the United States and abroad. In 1993 he was named the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he played a key role in crafting the Clinton Administration’s social policy agenda.  A native of Minnesota, Ellwood graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1975 and earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University in 1981.

“David Ellwood has been one of the most thoughtful and influential voices for several decades on social and welfare policy, employment, unemployment and labor economics. His ideas and scholarship are critically important at this time when policymakers are struggling to confront the growing divide between the rich and the poor in this country and elsewhere,” said Dean Elmendorf. “We are elated that David will begin the next chapter of his academic life as director of the Wiener Center.”

Harvard University President Drew Faust commended Ellwood for his leadership style and for his commitment to social and economic justice.

“David is an extraordinarily talented and dedicated scholar and teacher with a deep commitment to seeking policy solutions through rigorous academic work that engages with policy and practice. Now more than ever such solutions are increasingly necessary to ensure equal opportunity and justice for all members of society,” said Faust. “I am fully confident that David’s work as director will help bring together scholars from across Harvard and position the Wiener Center as the leading force across the University for critically important and relevant research on poverty, inequality and social justice.”

The Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, endowed by Malcolm Hewitt Wiener in 1988, has grown in status and stature to become an influential voice in domestic policy over the past 28 years.  The Center has been at the forefront of social policy research, teaching and practice – addressing the crucial issues of inequality, urban poverty, criminal justice, mass incarceration, community policing, education, welfare reform, labor, immigration, American Indian economic and social development, and health care policy. It is dedicated to the advancement of ideas, research, and debate to address the social problems that are among the nation’s most urgent policy challenges.

Malcolm Wiener lauded the selection of Ellwood as the Center’s next director:  “It is a personal delight to welcome back David Ellwood as Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy.  His experience in research, teaching, advising other leading institutions in the field, crafting government policy at a senior level, and as Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School will be invaluable in realizing the possibilities of the Center.”

“The Kennedy School, the University, the nation and the world can and must do so much more to promote justice, enhance opportunity, and reduce poverty and inequality in its many forms,” said David Ellwood. “I cannot remember a time when the potential for progress was so great or the need more urgent. It is a great honor for me to join with so many others at the Wiener Center to tackle these critical issues.”

Ellwood will succeed Bruce Western, Professor of Sociology and Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice Policy, who has served as director of the Wiener Center since 2011.  Western will remain as faculty director of the Wiener Center’s Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management and will continue his teaching and research responsibilities in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, where he is based. 

“Bruce has provided inspiring leadership at the helm of the Wiener Center over the past five years,” said Elmendorf. “During his tenure, the Center has greatly expanded its thought leadership in the areas of criminal justice policy, race and incarceration, and the intersection of those issues with socioeconomic equality and inequality. I am grateful to him for his dedicated service.”

“I am also grateful to Professor Bruce Western for his distinguished service as Director of the Center and thankful that he has agreed to direct the Program in Criminal Justice at the Wiener Center,” added Malcolm Wiener.


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