Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Political, social science academy honors Cancian

Political, social science academy honors Cancian

The American Academy of Political and Social Science this week named Maria Cancian its 2018 John Kenneth Galbraith Fellow.

Cancian, a professor in the La Follette School of Public Affairs and the School of Social Work, as well as a faculty affiliate and former director of the Institute for Research on Poverty, is one of five scholars from across the country invited this year to join the AAPSS in recognition of their contributions to advancement of the social sciences.

A leading and influential scholar on the effects of child support programs on children and families, Cancian and her research have shaped national research agendas and discourse on child support policy, poverty policy and child welfare policy, and generated more than $50 million in grants to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Maria’s contributions to scholarship are extraordinary in their groundbreaking contributions in the area of child support, family complexity, welfare policy and child welfare policy,” says La Follette School Director and Professor Don Moynihan. “But she is not just a great scholar. Her research has had a profound effect on shaping child support, welfare and child welfare policies in the state and nation, and around the world. Few people on the UW-Madison campus — or any campus — can rival her extraordinary impact.”

After earning undergraduate degrees in political science and sociology, with honors, from Swarthmore College, and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan, Cancian joined the UW-Madison faculty in 1993. She has worked as the associate dean for social sciences and the associate dean for fiscal services at the College of Letters & Science.

Cancian served in the Obama administration as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and then Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Administration for Children and Families in Health and Human Services before returning to the university in 2016.

“I am very lucky to have spent my academic career at the UW-Madison, and to have benefited from UW colleagues and institutions that support the Wisconsin Idea and the value of engaged scholarship on public policy issues,” Cancian says. “At a time when the critical work of our public institutions is at risk of being fundamentally disrupted by dysfunctional partisan politics, social science, and consideration of evidence-based policy, may help us find a more productive path.”

Cancian joins a prestigious group of Badgers who have been recognized by the AAPSS. Last year, the academy named La Follette professor Tim Smeeding its Galbraith Fellow, an honor held by former Institute for Research on Poverty director Sheldon Danziger in 2010. UW-Madison Chancellor Becky Blank was selected as the Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow in 2010.

Another of this year’s inductees is Jane Waldfogel, a professor of social work at Columbia University and an affiliate with the UW-Madison Institute for Research on Poverty, who was named the 2018 Margaret Mead Fellow.

The AAPSS is one of the country’s oldest and most esteemed learned societies. Among its more than 100 fellows are Nobel Prize winners, scientists, historians, scholars and practitioners in education, government and public policy.