Teachers College, Columbia University
The Mixed Methods Blog
The Mixed Methods Blog

Jordan Matsudaira Appointed to Higher Ed Policy Role in Education Department

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Jordan Matsudaira, a senior research scholar at CCRC and an associate professor of economics and education policy at Teachers College, is headed to the U.S. Department of Education.

Matsudaira, whose research focuses on economic mobility, has been appointed deputy undersecretary in the office responsible for higher education, adult education, and federal student aid.

CCRC Director Tom Brock said Matsudaira will be joining an exceptional team focused on higher education.

“Jordan brings a deep understanding of the economics of higher education and how to get things done in Washington,” Brock said.

With a background in both policy and research, Matsudaira said in a 2018 interview that much of his work is focused on filling gaps in information that policymakers need to make good decisions.

"In a lot of settings, it felt like the research base to really guide a lot of the important policy decisions was underdeveloped,” he said. “A lot of the work that I’m doing now is motivated by filling in the gaps in areas where I felt like there wasn't really clear guidance coming from the literature about how policy should be crafted.”

You can hear more from Matsudaira about his new appointment on the Teachers College website. 

Matsudaira came to CCRC in August 2018 from Cornell University, where he was an assistant professor of public policy and economics. At CCRC he worked on projects to develop better predictors of college students’ success in the labor force and understand which programs and policies promote that success, particularly for disadvantaged groups. He helped launch a policy lab on socioeconomic mobility in partnership with the City University of New York.

From 2013 to 2015, he served on President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers as a senior, and then chief, economist. He worked on labor, education, and safety net policies, including gainful employment regulations of for-profit colleges and an expansion of the federal overtime protections in the Fair Labor Standards Act. He also led a multiagency team in developing the College Scorecard, a data tool that provides college-specific information on student outcomes.

Martha Kanter, the CEO of College Promise, worked closely with Matsudaira when she was under secretary of education in the Obama administration, particularly on the College Scorecard. She said he’s one of the finest researchers she knows, but also has policy chops.

Government work can be incremental, Kanter said, but “the thing about Jordan is he goes for transformative change."

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