Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Collins promoted to full professor

J. Michael Collins J. Michael Collins

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents approved the promotion of UW–Madison faculty member J. Michael Collins to full professor at its June meeting.

Collins, the Fetzer Family Chair in Consumer and Personal Finance at UW–Madison, serves on the faculty of the La Follette School of Public Affairs and the School of Human Ecology. On August 1, he will begin a one-year term as the La Follette School’s Outreach Chair, assisting with expansion of the School’s outreach team through the Kohl Initiative.

In the School of Human Ecology, Collins is faculty director of the Center for Financial Security, conducts research and provides services to help individuals and families improve their financial outcomes. It also provides extensive outreach with professionals and policymakers to put that research into practice.

Additionally, Collins is a family economics specialist for UW–Madison’s Division of Extension and an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty and Center for Demography and Ecology.

“Michael is an outstanding example of researchers connecting their findings with practice and policy at the local, state, and federal level,” said La Follette School Director and Professor Susan Webb Yackee. “He also is an excellent teacher, especially working with students on their capstone projects for outside clients.”

Collins studies household finance and financial capability, exploring ways to improve household financial well-being. His work focuses on underserved populations, including lower-income families, racial and ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities.

In 2018, the Social Security Administration’s Retirement and Disability Research Consortium (RDRC) awarded the Center for Financial Security a five-year cooperative agreement to explore the financial well-being of financially vulnerable families, older people, people with disabilities, low-wealth households, and children.

The previous year, Collins received the inaugural Ketchum Prize from the FINRA Foundation. He was honored for his outstanding service and research to advance investor protection and financial capability in the United States.

Collins also received two of UW–Madison’s most competitive awards from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education – a Vilas Associates Award in 2016 and an H.I. Romnes Faculty Fellowship in 2018.

The Vilas award supported his project to develop a financial intervention that helps economically vulnerable families to keep up with ongoing out-of-pocket health care expenses. That work also received support from the Met Life Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Kohl Public Service Research Competition.