Maxwell School

John L. Palmer

University Professor and Dean-Emeritus

John Palmer

Contact Information

319 Eggers Hall
(315) 443-9439

Office Hours:
By Appointment

Curriculum Vitae
John Palmer CV

Senior Research Associate, Campbell Public Affairs Institute


Ph.D., Stanford University, 1971


Public policy, public management, public finance, U.S. and comparative social policy, Medicare and Social Security


PPA 730 The Federal Budget and Social Security and Health Care Reform

PPA 730 Social Policy in a Comparative Context


John L. Palmer currently holds the position of University Professor at Syracuse University and of Birkhead-Burkhead Professor of Teaching Excellence within its Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.  From 1988-2003 he was Dean, and Professor of Economics and Public Administration, of the Maxwell School and responsible for academic and administrative leadership of Syracuse  University's six social science disciplinary departments, undergraduate and graduate programs in public and international affairs, and numerous interdisciplinary research centers and institutes.  He also served two presidentially-appointed terms from 2000-2008 as a public trustee for the Medicare and Social Security programs. 


Dr. Palmer received a B.A. in mathematics from Williams College in 1965, followed by a Ph.D. and temporary faculty appointment in economics at Stanford University.  In the early 1970’s he moved to Washington, D.C. to assume the position of Senior Economist in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.  Between then and becoming Maxwell School dean he was the Director of HEW’s Office of Income Security Policy, a Senior Fellow of The Brookings Institution, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation of the Department of Health and Human Services, and a Senior Fellow of The Urban Institute.  He also taught at Harvard University as an adjunct member of the faculty of the Kennedy School while at The Urban Institute. 


Throughout his career Dr. Palmer has written extensively and engaged in a variety of other professional activities.  His publications include 13 books and dozens of professional and popular articles on a wide range of topics related to economic, budgetary and social policy concerns.  He has provided expert testimony to Congress on many occasions and been a consultant to numerous government agencies, private foundations, and universities.  He has served as an officer of several national professional associations and as a member of the Visiting Committee of The Brookings Institution and of various committees of the National Academy of Science’s (NAS) National Research Council.  He is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) and past president of the National Academy of Social Insurance.  He recently co-chaired a joint NAS/NAPA committee whose two-year study report, Choosing the Nation’s Fiscal Future, was published by The National Academies Press, and served on the Board of Directors of the New York State Health Foundation.  Current professional activities include serving on the Council of Academic Advisors of the American Enterprise Institute, the Advisory Board of the Robertson Foundation for Government, the Advisory Council of Emeriti Retirement Health Solutions, the Board of Trustees of the Central and Western New York State chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and as chair of the Research Advisory Board of the Committee for Economic Development (CED).

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Maxwell School of Syracuse University | 200 Eggers Hall | Syracuse, NY 13244-1020 | 315.443.2252