Wallace chosen as Kohl Undergrad Education Chair

The La Follette School of Public Affairs has selected Associate Professor Geoffrey Wallace as its first Kohl Undergraduate Education Chair. Funded by the Kohl Initiative, this faculty leadership position will guide the School’s new Undergraduate Certificate in Public Policy program.

UW–Madison juniors and seniors are eligible for the certificate program, one of the primary focus areas in Sen. Herb Kohl’s recent $10 million gift to the La Follette School. More than 50 students are participating in the program’s first cohort.

“As one of the La Follette School’s core faculty members, Geoffrey is uniquely qualified for this exciting role,” said Director and Professor Susan Webb Yackee. “I look forward to working even more closely with him as we implement the certificate program and expand the School’s reach.”

The certificate program allows undergraduate students to apply a policy perspective to their major course of study and bolsters their skills for success in the workforce or in their graduate school coursework. Students build a strong foundation for careers in government, nonprofit organizations, or the private sector.

“Given the increasing complexity of public policy, students and employers are seeking analytical, writing, critical-thinking, and other skills emphasized at the La Follette School,” said Wallace, who joined the University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty in 1990. “I’m honored and excited to play a key role in the School’s growth.”

Wallace teaches Introduction to Statistical Methods for Public Policy Analysis, which is among the La Follette School’s most challenging and rewarding core courses for master’s degree students. This course emphasizes statistical inference and its applications to economic and public policy analysis and problems.

An economist, Wallace studies issues related to labor, marriage, and the family, especially entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. In 2018, Wallace received the Jerry and Mary Cotter Faculty Fellowship for his research on cognitive impairment among older people in the United States and the implications for household wealth. He is orginally from Milwaukee.

The first stage of his work will be a latent measure of cognitive status that will be valuable in determining the pace of cognitive decline post retirement and for highlighting individuals and groups that are at high risk of significant decline. The goal of the second phase is to estimate the household wealth effects of cognitive decline and the sources of these wealth effects (e.g., spending down for Medicaid vs. high out-of-pocket medical expenses).

“Legislators continue to grapple with entitlement program funding as the aging baby boom generation moves into retirement with longer life expectancy,” said Wallace. “I am extremely grateful for the Cotter family’s generous support of my research on this critical topic for our country,” said Wallace.