Video: 2015 Charles E. Merriam Award

The Charles E. Merriam Award was established by the Association to recognize a person whose published work and career represent a significant contribution to the art of government through the application of social science research.

Shalala receiving awardDonna Shalala from the Clinton Foundation is notable both as a dedicated public servant and as a scholar committed to advancing public service. She began her contributions to public service in her formative scholarly writings about public finance. Serving as secretary to the “Big MAC,” the Municipal Assistance Corporation that managed to pull New York City out of its budget crisis in the 1970s, Shalala was able to put her academic research into action. After serving as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1977–1980, she was appointed as president of Hunter College, City University of New York. From there, she became chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, where she served until called in 1993 to become Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, a post she held throughout the Clinton Administration, until 2001. At that point, she became president of the University of Miami, a post she held until recently; she currently heads the Clinton Foundation.

An unflagging supporter of expanding opportunities for everyone in society, Shalala has focused as a scholar on health and educational opportunities, on advancing equality for women, and on support for veterans. She made a federal response to AIDS a focus while at Health and Human Services. And she remains a supporter of the public role of research in the social sciences to advance public causes. Like Charles Merriam, both as a scholar and public official, then, Donna Shalala has embodied the commitment to academic and public service that we honor with this Award.

Rivers receiving awardDoug Rivers, Stanford University  is also honored by the award in recognition of the outstanding role he has played over the past thirty years as innovator and entrepreneur in pushing forward new strategies in survey methodology, field experimentation, data accessibility, research sustainability, and empirical interpretation. He has innovated methods and data sources that are essential to the subsequent work of multiple generations of scholars in such fields as public opinion analysis, election studies, and congressional politics, particularly through his roles in helping to create and expand Knowledge Networks (with Norman Nie) and Polimetrix.

Additionally, as scholar, teacher, collaborator, and reviewer, he has helped to clarify and demonstrate the ways in which new methods and data can address critical issues in the interpretation of data, and thus in the understanding of politics, that previous scholars lacking such methods and data were forced to ignore.

Charles Merriam was noted for his commitment to innovative political and social science scholarship, and for his consequent efforts in founding the Social Science Research Council to foster such research. As innovator, scholar, entrepreneur, and teacher of the first order, Doug Rivers clearly follows in Merriam’s footsteps and is richly deserving of the Merriam Award.

Thanks to the Award Committee: Pippa Norris, Harvard University, chair; Larry Dodd, University of Florida; and Joan Tronto, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.