New Laditka Fund supports social science undergrads

LaditkasA new scholarship, funded by alumni Sarah and Jim Laditka, will support undergraduate students throughout the Maxwell School. The endowment provides scholarships for undergraduates in all the social sciences, with preference to first-generation college students and others from under-represented groups.

Sarah Laditka earned a 1994 MA and 1995 PhD from Maxwell, in economics and public administration, respectively; she holds a Syracuse University MBA, as well. Jim Laditka earned an MPA in 1998 and PhD (PA) in 2002 from Maxwell.

This scholarship is part of a larger, long-term commitment to support the Maxwell School. The Laditkas have arranged a substantial estate bequest to Syracuse University, which will expand the new scholarship fund. That eventual fund will support graduate students and faculty members at the Maxwell School.

The Laditkas’ gift follows from their own active involvement in higher education. Both serve on the Public Health Sciences faculty at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Together they have taught more than 10,000 students and mentored dozens of doctoral students, now active in their own academic careers. The Laditkas teach health economics, health informatics, statistical analysis and research methods, strategic management, and epidemiology.

“Our goal is to help the Maxwell School promote education and research in citizenship and the social sciences,” they said in a joint statement. “We are delighted to endow this scholarship and help students succeed. Our Maxwell educations opened many doors for us. We hope the students who are supported by this scholarship will have similar opportunities.”

The Laditkas are also active researchers in aging and population health, with more than 200 published peer-reviewed studies. They contributed to public policies on aging by leading research and policy development that helped establish a national agenda on brain health. Their current research improves knowledge about the dynamics of disability throughout life, identifying population groups most affected by health disparities. “The ways of thinking about complex problems that we learned from the social sciences are especially helpful for our research, our teaching, and our work in policy,” they said. “We believe the perspectives of the social sciences are critically important for citizens and government.”

"These gifts from Sarah and Jim Laditka — both the current funding and the planned bequest — will help keep the Maxwell School at the leading edge of citizenship education, research, and public policy,” said Maxwell Dean David M. Van Slyke. “Many generations of undergraduate students will benefit from this permanent endowment and the opportunity to integrate strong disciplinary study in social sciences with our School’s emphasis on citizenship and public affairs. We thank Sarah and Jim Laditka for their generous support of the Maxwell School.”

Supplemental gifts to the Laditka Scholarship Fund, supporting social science students at the Maxwell School, including first generation college students and others from under-represented groups, are being accepted. For more information, please contact Linda Birnbaum at