Harris School Dean Katherine Baicker Announced as Next Provost

Baicker will succeed Provost Ka Yee C. Lee on March 20


By Austin Zeglis

Katherine Baicker, dean of the Harris School of Public Policy, will serve as the University’s next provost, according to an email from President Paul Alivisatos sent out to the University community on Monday, January 30.

She will succeed Ka Yee C. Lee, who is transitioning into the newly created role of executive vice president for strategic initiatives. The move will be made official on March 20.

Baicker is the Emmett Dedmon Professor at the Harris School and has served as the school’s dean since 2017.

Alivisatos’s email highlighted Baicker’s achievements as Harris School Dean, including curricular innovation and an increasingly selective admissions process coupled with a growing student body. Baicker was also integral in the development of the Harris School’s Diversity and Inclusion Roadmap.

“Kate will bring to the role of provost both her knowledge of the University’s academic enterprise and experience leading innovative change,” Alivisatos wrote in his email.

Baicker’s current research centers around the distribution and health care quality effects of public and private health insurance reform. She is part of a program researching the effects of expanding health insurance coverage in an Oregon Medicaid expansion.

Baicker received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale in 1993 and her Ph.D. in economics from Harvard in 1998, after which she accepted a position to teach economics at Dartmouth College.

After leaving Dartmouth for UCLA in 2005, Baicker was appointed by then-president George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate to serve as a senior economist in his Council of Economic Advisers.

There, her research areas included topics such as health economics, welfare, and public finance. Within public finance, she focused on the financing of health insurance, spending on public programs, and fiscal federalism. Baicker played a leading role in the development of President Bush’s health care reform proposals, which emphasized high-deductible health plans and Health Savings Accounts.

She held that position until 2007, when she accepted a dual appointment to teach at the Harvard schools of public health and of government. In  2017, she came to UChicago and accepted the position of dean at the Harris School of Public Policy.

Baicker is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has previously been a member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees, and the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Health Advisers.

“As provost, she will act as a curator, champion, and defender of academic excellence across the University,” Alivisatos said in his email. “She will commit her efforts toward upholding the University’s distinctive culture and values, supporting scholarship and teaching, and collaborating with deans and other university leaders to most effectively engage the opportunities before the University.”