Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Smeeding receives WARF professorship

Timothy Smeeding Timothy Smeeding

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) appointed La Follette School faculty member Tim Smeeding as the Lee Rainwater Distinguished Professor of Public Affairs and Economics. The appointment includes $75,000 in research support from WARF over five years.

Smeeding, who received a master’s degree (1973) and doctorate (1975) in economics from UW-Madison, returned to his alma mater in 2008 after teaching at four major universities. His research focuses on the causes and consequences of inequalities in income, consumption and wealth — and the effects of social policy on inequality, poverty and mobility across generations — in national and cross-national contexts.

“This is one of the highest awards UW-Madison bestows, and I can think of no other faculty member who is more deserving,” said La Follette School Director Susan Yackee. “He is an exceptional multi-disciplinary scholar.”

From 2008 to 2014, Smeeding served as director of UW-Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty; and in 2008, he developed the Wisconsin Poverty Measure. Smeeding, Rainwater and Robert Erickson created the Luxembourg Income Study in 1983.

“Lee was a gifted scholar whose classic works on ghetto life and the culture of poverty, human capital and social policy forged new pathways for many younger scholars who were in his debt,” Smeeding said about his mentor, friend and co-author who died in 2015. Smeeding joins current La Follette faculty members David Weimer and Barbara (Bobbi) Wolfe as WARF professorship recipients.

Smeeding has authored dozens of articles and books and serves on numerous commissions, panels, boards and working groups nationally and internationally. Among his many activities, he is a senior program associate with The William T. Grant Foundation, co-director of the Wisconsin Federal Statistical Research Data Center and a member of the Academic Pediatric Association’s Taskforce on Child Poverty.

In January, Smeeding shared his expertise with the Wisconsin Future of the Family Commission. The 10-member Commission, created by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, is charged with “identifying issues and barriers relating to the overall well-being of families in the state, developing policies that lift individuals out of poverty, and developing and recommending polices for implementation to better serve Wisconsin's families throughout the future.”

WARF is the private, nonprofit patent and licensing organization for UW-Madison. Its mission is to support, aid and encourage UW-Madison research by protecting its discoveries and licensing them to commercial partners for beneficial use in the real world. Information about the five other WARF professorships announced in March 2016 is online.