March 14, 2010

David Harris Appointed to Obama Administration Post

Print More

Deputy Provost David Harris will take an extended leave from Cornell to serve in an appointed position in the Obama Administration, he confirmed to The Sun Friday.  Harris will serve as the deputy assistant secretary for human services policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation under the Department of Health and Human Services. The Office of Human Services policy “focuses on welfare, poverty, service delivery issues, data for research, policies affecting children, youth, and families, and economic matters affecting the [HHS],” according to its website.

Harris described ASPE as a “think tank within HHS” that serves to analyze federal policies. They produce data and also generate new policy ideas.

“It’s an administrative role, sort of like what I’ve been doing at Cornell, that allows me to use my academic expertise to try and think about doing things differently,” Harris told The Sun. “I certainly wouldn’t come in with my own agenda, except that obviously poverty is a huge problem in this country, lack of opportunity is a huge problem in this country, and I think it’s critical that we do what we can to give everybody a good shot at ending up where they want to be.”

Harris said he was not concerned about the transition into his new political appointment, given his current administrative experience. “I think it would be very difficult if I was going from from being a faculty member to being the person who has to run the be very difficult if I was going from from being a faculty member to being the person who has to run the food stamp program.” He cited overlap between his current position at the University and his new appointment.

Harris, who also currently serves as vice provost for social sciences, said he will start his new job on Apr. 12. His last day on campus will be Mar. 19, but he said he expects to return to Cornell after his appointment ends.

Harris joined the Cornell faculty as a professor of sociology in 2003. From 2004 to 2007, he served as executive director of the Cornell’s Institute for Social Sciences. In 2007, Harris was named deputy provost. In the fall of 2008, he served as interim provost following the departure of Provost Biddy Martin until the appointment of the current provost, Kent Fuchs.

Original Author: Michael Stratford