David N. Figlio has been named dean of the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University, effective Sept. 1. He will succeed Penelope Peterson, who will retire as dean Aug. 31 after serving 20 years in the role. 

Figlio is the Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy at SESP and is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.


He’s known nationally and internationally for his scholarship on school accountability, choice, standards, welfare policy and policy design, intergenerational issues in health and education, and student learning outcomes in higher education. 

As Director of the school’s Institute for Policy Research since 2012, Figlio has led significant change at the Institute, including restructuring support staff roles, establishing new systems of shared governance and decision-making, launching new collaborations with other institutes and schools across Northwestern, and spearheading collaborative ventures with partners, including the Evanston and Chicago public school districts.

Northwestern Provost Daniel Linzer said Figlio’s “energy, collaborative spirit and ability to provide intellectual leadership on a wide range of education and policy issues make him an outstanding choice for leading the school forward in this critical time for education and our country.”

Figlio said the school’s students “graduate with an education that empowers them to engage with their communities and the world in all its complexity. The combination of research, teaching and outreach that is conducted across the school enables all members of the school to have a role in making the world a better place.”

Prior to joining Northwestern in 2008, Figlio was an economics faculty member at the University of Oregon and the University of Florida. In 2007, he served as visiting fellow at Exeter College and the Department of Economics at the University of Oxford.

Figlio received his B.S.B.A. at George Washington University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“My time so far at Northwestern has been a joy, and I am looking forward to leading SESP in its upward trajectory among the very best schools of education and policy in the world,” he said.

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