UC Davis business school picks interim dean

An economist and poverty expert was named interim dean Tuesday of UC Davis’ Graduate School of Management.

Ann Huff Stevens, chair of the university’s economics department and director of its Center for Poverty Research, takes charge of the management school effective Oct. 1. She will serve until a new, permanent dean is selected, probably by July 1, 2016, and won’t be a candidate for the job.

The post is important in ways that go beyond UCD’s campus boundaries; the dean of the Davis management school is traditionally a leader of the greater Sacramento business community.

Stevens replaces Steven Currall, the dean since 2009. He was recently named special advisor to Chancellor Linda Katehi on the possibility of developing a “third campus” in Sacramento. The campus would be devoted to food and nutrition research and could be located in the vacant railyard on the northern edge of downtown Sacramento.

Stevens earned a bachelor’s degree from American University in Washington, D.C., and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. She taught at Rutgers and Yale universities before joining UC Davis as an associate professor in 2003. She founded the university’s poverty research center in 2011 and will continue to direct the center while she is interim dean.

Her specialty is research into low-income workers, safety-net issues and other related topics. An ardent proponent of the government’s 50-year-old “war on poverty,” she has argued passionately that government statistics don’t adequately measure the positive effects of many safety-net programs on the lives of the poor.

“Much relevant evidence suggests that they do help, but we have to look beyond the official poverty statistics to see it,” she said in an opinion piece she co-authored in The Sacramento Bee two years ago.

In a piece she co-wrote for the Los Angeles Times earlier this year, she said: “By misrepresenting the War on Poverty as a failed effort, we may make ourselves feel better about these (program) cuts, but the evidence shows that a smaller safety net will have negative repercussions even beyond those we might have imagined 50 years ago.”