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The Department of Economics' Strassmann Fellowship to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion and to continue support of the AEASP mission

The Michigan State University Department of Economics is pleased to announce the establishment of the W. Paul Strassmann Fellowship. The goal of the fellowship is to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within the discipline and continue MSU’s support of the mission of the American Economic Association Summer Program (AEASP).

Diana L. Strassmann, PhD, established the fellowship in honor of her late father, Dr. W. Paul Strassmann. As an eleven-year-old child, Strassmann and his family escaped Nazi Germany, where they were racially persecuted by the Nazis as non Aryans. Many years later, after receiving his PhD in Economics from the University of Maryland, Dr. Strassmann served as an MSU professor of economics for 39 years, from 1956 through 1995, where he devoted his career towards research on economic inequality and the intersection of poverty and political oppression.

Throughout his academic career, Dr. Strassmann focused on a vision of economics that considers the influences of culture, history, and politics to illuminate neglected and misunderstood economic behavior. In particular, he sought to promote the economic advancement of people living in the most oppressed circumstances and focused much of his research on how best to provide housing and infrastructure to the urban poor. He conducted in depth field studies in sixteen countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, and published nine books and over a hundred other publications. He guided sixteen dissertations, many centered in developing countries, and maintained lifelong friendships with numerous former students. W. Paul Strassmann recognized the importance of nurturing scholars from diverse communities, whose insights and focus on populations not well represented within the economics profession would lead to better economic policies. The gift is intended to further this aim, by providing support for scholars whose active participation in the economics profession will lead to more just economic policies, in service to and accountable to all populations.

"I am honored to continue my father’s legacy of providing opportunities to underrepresented voices,” said Diana, "and look forward to the potentially transformative research the graduate students receiving this fellowship will conduct."

The fellowship will support graduate students who advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within the department. Preference will be given to students who either attended a Historically Black College or University or the American Economic Association Summer Program, or whose research focuses on topics such as race and ethnicity, global development, inequality and barriers to equitable human advancement.

"We are so thankful for this gift, and excited for the opportunities it will create for our graduate students, our department, and our profession," said Dr. Steven Haider, the Chair of the Department of Economics. “I cannot imagine a more fitting tribute to Paul’s legacy.”

The Department is particularly proud to be able to continue to support the important mission of the AEASP, which MSU hosted from 2016 through 2020, through including program alums as target recipients. “The AEASP is very appreciative of MSU, first through hosting the program for the last five years and now through offering continued support to its alums who choose to attend MSU; the Strassmann Fellowship will help us achieve our collective goal of improving the diversity of our profession,” said Dr. Gary A. Hoover, co-chair of the Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession.

The fellowship will support graduate students through providing financial support to qualified graduate students so that they can focus on their own research.

Anyone interested in contributing to the Strassmann Endowment should contact the Department of Economics.


Michigan State University Department of Economics