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

Aging Studies Institute
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



John L. Palmer has occupied the position of University Professor at Syracuse University since 2003, prior to which he served for 15 years as dean of the Maxwell School.  His research and graduate teaching interests focus on federal budget policy, health care financing and retirement income security, comparative social policy, and the challenges posed by world-wide population aging.  He has also been a regular participant in various Maxwell School’s executive education programs, as well as in its signature interdisciplinary undergraduate course, Critical Issues for the United States: Coming to Public Judgment, and has received the Birkhead-Burkhead Award for Teaching Excellence from the School’s Department of Public Administration and International Affairs.

While a University Professor, Dr. Palmer has served two presidentially appointed terms as a public trustee for the Medicare and Social Security programs.  He has also co-directed a MacArthur Foundation funded study under the joint auspices of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Public Administration, which culminated in a book entitled Choosing the Nation’s Fiscal Future.  This study documented the nature of the country’s long-term budget challenge and likely consequences of inaction, offered an assessment of the options for a sustainable federal budget, and provided a practical framework for judging the merits of prospective budget proposals and policy changes. He and his co-director—Rudy Penner, a senior fellow of the Urban Institute and former director of the Congressional Budget Office—followed up on that study with a project assessing various major proposals and Congressional actions for long-term deficit reduction that resulted in several Urban Institute Press publications and the lead article in the journal Public Budgeting and Finance entitled The Hard Road to Fiscal Responsibility.


Dr. Palmer’s current external 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).  He also recently served on the council of academic advisors of The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the board of directors of the New York State Health Foundation and as a trustee of the Central and Western New York State chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

John Palmer's Short Bio