Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

Created in 2007, the Paul Offner Lecture Series is sponsored by UW–Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs and the Washington, DC-based Urban Institute. The lecture series honors the late Paul Offner, whose left a legacy of applying good scholarship to public policy, especially for disadvantaged people.

Harry Holzer and Peter Edelman, coauthors with Offner of Reconnecting Disadvantaged Young Men (2006), were the first presenters in the lecture series. The book, which offers an array of policies to improve the lives of young people who are out of work and out of school, was published after Offner, a former Wisconsin state senator, died of cancer in 2004 at the age of 61.

Offner Lecturers

2022: Anne Case, Emeritus Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton University, The Great Divide: Education, Despair & Death. Details.

2021: Katie Harbath, former global public policy director at Facebook, Politics & Policy: Democracy in the Digital Age. DetailsVideo.

2018: Rebecca Blank, Chancellor, University of Wisconsin–Madison, How Universities Can Lead in Addressing Inequality, Urban Institute. Details. Video

2017: Katherine Baicker, Dean, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, The Effect of Medicaid Spending, Health, and Well-Being: Evidence and Implications for Reform. *Video available upon request.

2016: Ron Haskins, Isabel Sawhill, and C. Eugene Steuerle (MA ’72, MS ’73, PhD ‘75), Improving Opportunities for Children, November 3, Urban Institute. Video

2014: Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson (BA '60, JD '66), Madison. Video

2012: Former U.S. House Representative Steve Gunderson (BA '73). Video

2011: Former U.S. House Representative David Obey (BA '60, MA '68) of Wisconsin, Urban Institute. Video

2010: John Norquist (MA '88), president of Congress for the New Urbanism, Madison. Audio

2008: E.J. Dionne, columnist, The Washington Post

2007: Harry Holzer and Peter Edleman, authors of Reconnecting Disadvantaged Young Men with Paul Offner

Paul Offner

Paul Offner's legacy

Paul Offner began his distinguished career in government, research, and education in Wisconsin, where he served in the State Legislature from 1975 to 1984.

Offner, who received his doctorate in economics from Princeton University, also worked in Ohio state government, in the federal government, at Georgetown University, and at the Urban Institute.

He died from cancer in 2004 at the age of 61, leaving a legacy of applying good scholarship to public policy solutions, especially for disadvantaged people.

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