U-M professors to aid Biden-Harris transition team

Tuesday, November 10, 2020 - 4:31pm

.

File Photo/Daily

Update: Adrienne Harris, professor of practice at the Ford School of Public Policy, was later announced as a volunteer on the Federal Reserve, Banking and Securities Regulators committee of the Biden transition team. 

Three University of Michigan professors and Obama administration alums will help President-elect Joe Biden transition to power in Washington, D.C. 

The group selected to evaluate various federal agencies and get them in line with the goals of the Biden administration is a who’s-who of academics and former government officials. The Biden-Harris transition team announced the list on Tuesday.

Michael Barr, dean of the Ford School of Public Policy, previously served in the Department of Treasury as assistant secretary for financial institutions when President Barack Obama was in office. Barr will serve as a volunteer on the Department of the Treasury committee of the transition team. 

In a Sunday email to students, Barr congratulated Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory, calling it a historic moment for the country.

“I also think it is fair to say, that those who have worked with President-elect Biden, from across the political spectrum, whether or not they agree with him on policy or politics, view him as a person of great personal integrity, decency, and compassion,” Barr wrote.

Barr helped craft the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, a massive piece of financial reform and oversight legislation passed in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Before his Senate confirmation, Barr was also a member of the National Economic Council in the White House. Before that, Barr worked in former President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Barr researches and writes about issues in domestic and international financial regulation. He is also a professor at the Law School, where he taught financial regulation and international finance.

Betsey Stevenson, a professor of public policy and economics, will also help review operations at the Department of Treasury in a volunteer capacity.

In a press release Tuesday, the Biden-Harris campaign emphasized the diversity of the transition team, calling it one of the most diverse agency review teams in presidential transition history. 

“Of the hundreds of (agency review team) members to be announced, more than half are women, and approximately 40 percent represent communities historically underrepresented in the federal government, including people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities,” the release reads. “The President-elect and Vice President-elect are committed to building an administration that looks like America.”

In a 2018 panel at the Ford School, Stevenson discussed the need to diversify the field of economics, stressing the importance of increasing the number of women in the profession.

“We have a cultural shift that needs to take place,” Stevenson said. “And one of the few ways to get cultures to shift is to change the people in the culture, so I do think that improving the pipeline and getting more women into economics is an important part of this.”

Stevenson previously served as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers from 2013 to 2015. She advised then-President Obama on the labor market, social policy and trade issues. 

From 2010 to 2011, she was the chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor, where she advised the Secretary of Labor on labor policy.

Law professor Barb McQuade will be a volunteer on the Department of Justice committee of the transition team. From 2010 to 2017, she was the U.S attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, the first woman to serve in the role. 

McQuade was appointed by Obama and oversaw cases involving fraud, public corruption, terrorism and civil rights, among other issues. She resigned in March 2017 at the request of President Donald Trump.

McQuade has been a frequent critic of the Trump administration, accusing the current president of working to undermine the rule of law.

In a statement to The Daily, McQuade said she was excited to aid in the transition process.

“I am honored to be part of the Biden-Harris transition team and eager to help ensure a smooth transition at the Department of Justice,” she wrote.

The Associated Press declared Biden the winner of the presidential election on Saturday morning, and students took to State Street to celebrate. President Trump has refused to concede and his campaign has filed lawsuits challenging the validity of the election in numerous states, without citing evidence of fraud or wrongdoing.

On Monday, the Trump administration told agency officials not to cooperate with the Biden transition team, as the president has yet to concede the election. Various agency officials had previously prepared briefings and reserved office space for members of the Biden transition team. Instead, they are now being instructed to wait until the General Services Administration officially begins the transition to a Biden administration. 

Daily Staff Reporters Sarah Payne and Emma Ruberg can be reached at paynesm@umich.edu and eruberg@umich.edu


The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown challenges at all of us — including The Michigan Daily — but that hasn’t stopped our staff. We’re committed to reporting on the issues that matter most to the community where we live, learn and work. Your donations keep our journalism free and independent. You can support our work here.

For a weekly roundup of the best stories from The Michigan Daily, sign up for our newsletter here.