U.S. Labor Department Names Wagner Professor Sewin Chan to Advisory Panel on Pensions
Sewin Chan, Associate Professor of Public Policy at NYU Wagner, has been sworn in as a member of the U.S. Departmetn of Labor's Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Plans. The panel was established under the ERISA Act, and Professor Chan will be one of 15 members on a three-year term. Her specific role is to represent the general public in advising Secretary Hilda Solis on issues relating to pension and health plans. Others on the council represent various industry groups and unions.
Professor Chan teaches courses in microeconomics, public finance, and health economics. Her research is concerned with the well-being of individuals and households and how it is shaped by the interaction of economic behavior, market institutions and government policies. Professor Chan's current focus is on the economics of aging and retirement. Her recent projects include the impact of job loss on older workers, individual responsiveness to financial retirement incentives, and the well-being of caregiving grandparents. Professor Chan has also worked on the economics of the residential housing market, examining the inherent risks of homeownership and designing innovative financial instruments for controlling those risks. Professor Chan has received grants from the National Science Foundation, the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, and the Center for Retirement Research. Her research has been published in leading journals such as the Journal of Labor Economics, the Journal of Public Economics and the Journal of Urban Economics. She holds an M.A. from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University.
NYU Wagner congratulates the Class of 2009, and celebrates Convocation at BAM
In a Convocation speech to Wagner's Class of 2009, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan said he attended the 1977 World Series game when sports commentator Howard Cosell, observing a column of rising smoke in the vicinity of Yankee Stadium, told a national television audience, "Ladies and gentleman, the Bronx is burning." The wave of arson, crime, and abandonment afflicting much of New York City less than two years after the city government had narrowly avoided municipal bankruptcy captured Donovan's attention even then, as an 11 year old baseball enthusiast. And it's probably no accident that as someone who came of age in the 1970s and '80s in New York, he went on to devote his education and distinguished public career to understanding and innovating policy steps that helped rescue and transform New York and many other American cities in the wake of that "urban catastrophe."
Donovan quoted former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton in addressing the proud and excited graduates and their families gathered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on May 15: "Public service is not just a way of life, it is a way to live life fully."
According to Donovan, the rise of New York and the restoration of its once-strained civic bonds show that public-sector work - his own path-has enormous potential value, even though the challenges were amply demonstrated by the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. Citing President Obama's call to service, as well as his recently signed national service bill, Donovan said the mission of public employees and others embarked on public service work of all kinds is to give us "a reason to believe in public service again" in our neighborhoods and across the nation and world.
"Wagner Class of 2009," Donovan said, "we need you to make it possible to believe again!...Together, we can put our shoulder up against the wheel and change the course of history."
Dean Ellen Schall enumerated the impressive accomplishments of the graduating students and faculty members, including Professors of the Year Shanna Rose and Anthony Kovner. She contended that the work of public service requires more than technical and analytical capabilities, as critical as those are, but also "artistry," saying, "Public service is as much about art as about science." Artistry is what is required to find bold new answers to problems that resist technical solutions, whether those are ending poverty, overcoming racism, ensuring equal health outcomes for all, creating public school systems that work, or building cities that are sustainable.
The dean told the graduates that she wrote an essay for the Convocation as if she were applying for admission to the school. She based her thoughts on a photograph she selected from a catalogue of visual images, just as many Wagner applicants are asked to do. The image she selected was that of a person bringing a pot to life on a pottery wheel, as it reminded her of an introduction to pottery class she took last fall.
"I showed up every Monday night from 6-9, much the way you showed up for a class," she told the graduates. "And it was very hard. It was the worst in the class, a fact clear to me and to everyone else. Yet I stayed and kept on trying. I knew there was learning in the trying, in sticking with what didn't come easily. I never actually cracked the code or became a potter. Yet at the end, I have these small little pieces of ‘pottery' in my house and the odd thing is, I display them...and they make me smile when I walk in. They remind me to take myself seriously, but not too seriously, to stretch even in the face of initial resistance, mine or others, to find pleasure in small wins."
She referred to the image on a large screen on the BAM stage.
"This captures a simple visual image that I wish for each of you as you go forth. That you embrace the boldness of seeing yourself as artists, as creators and change makers, as people who bring passion and the fullness of yourselves to the critically important challenges of public service. And that you have the discipline and energy and commitment to keep on going, even if you don't get it right the first time around, that you learn from what works as well as what doesn't, and that you find joy in small things as well as big moves."
Michael C. Alfano, executive vice president of New York University, offered spirited welcoming remarks, while class speaker Tracey Gardner, who earned an MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy, introduced Donovan, noting, "He's not beaten down, not jaded, and ever on the lookout for policy changes to improve how things are done and make our lives better."
NYU Wagner Forum with Leading Public Officials Explores President Obama's First 100 Days
Ellen Schall, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Robert M. Shrum, and Rogan Kersh
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, and White House senior economic adviser Jason Furman were among leading public service officials, business leaders, journalists, and professors who took part in an original, lively, and thought-provoking NYU Wagner forum April 24 entitled "President Obama's First 100 Days: Implications for Urban America."
NYU Wagner Dean Ellen Schall welcomed 100 public service and business leaders and others to the Fifth Avenue Ballroom, where the daylong conference also featured the author/historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Wagner Professor Paul C. Light, and Robert M. Shrum, the noted political strategist and a Wagner senior fellow.
Contributing to the event's four panel conversations were New York Times chief national political correspondent Adam Nagourney, NBC News Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker, Politico editor-in-chief John Harris, and New York 1 political reporter Dominic Carter.
The conversations and audience questions focused on the President's unparalleled attempts -- except for, perhaps, the first 100 days of Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency in the grip of the Great Depression -- to stabilize a reeling national economy, his evolving leadership, the enormous public support his actions have elicited, and the immediate and long-range challenges facing cash-pressed cities and states.
"The most important thing that he has done," said Governor Corzine, referring to President Obama, "is he has restored repect and confidence in the office of the presidency."
Philadelphia's Mayor Nutter, in response to a question from Mark Whitaker, gave the new commander-in-chief a "B-plus/A-minus" -- ticking off a list of the President's accomplishments and the many initiatives in healthcare and alternative-energy investment that may come -- and he added that the President and his administration have been strikingly accessible and sensitive to the concerns of big-city mayors such as himself.
"They know where cities are," Nutter said.