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John L. Palmer

John L. Palmer

Contact Information:


321 Eggers Hall

Office Hours:

By appointment

John L. Palmer

University Professor and Dean Emeritus

Senior Research Associate, Campbell Public Affairs Institute

Faculty Affiliate, Aging Studies Institute

Maxwell Advisory Board Member


Highest degree earned

Ph.D., Stanford University, 1971


John L. Palmer is University Professor and Maxwell Dean Emeritus at Syracuse University. He joined the faculty of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in 1988 and was the School’s dean from then until 2003, with responsibility 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. After leaving the deanship he was appointed to the position of University Professor, from which he retired in 2019.

He also served two presidentially appointed terms as a public trustee for the Medicare and Social Security programs from 2000-2007 and as the Maxwell School’s Birkhead-Burkhead Professor of Teaching Excellence from 2010-2014. Prior to moving to Syracuse, Palmer occupied several different positions in Washington, D.C., including senior fellow of the Brookings Institution and of the Urban Institute and assistant secretary for planning and evaluation of the Department of Health and Human Services.  

Over the course of his professional career Palmer has published 13 books and numerous professional and popular articles on a wide range of economic, budgetary and social policy topics. He also has provided expert testimony to Congress on many occasions and served as a consultant to various government agencies, private foundations and universities.

He is a senior fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and former president of the National Academy of Social Insurance. His other professional activities have included serving on various committees of the National Academy of Sciences, the Visiting Committee of the Brookings Institution, the Council of Academic Advisors of the American Enterprise Institute, and the board of directors of the New York State Health Foundation. His current professional activities include serving on the advisory board of the Robertson Foundation for Government and chairing the research advisory board of the Committee for Economic Development (CED).

Palmer received a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University and a B.A. in mathematics from Williams College. 

Areas of Expertise

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