Professor Michelle Miller-Adams

Michelle Miller-Adams

Fields: international relations, U.S. social policy, economic and community development

Twitter: @mmilleradams
(616) 331-2864 / (269) 501-2453 (cell)

Ph.D., Political Science, Columbia University
Masters of International Affairs, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University 
B.A., History, University of California, Santa Barbara 

Courses Taught
PLS 211 - International Relations
PLS 301 - Poverty, Inequality, and U.S. Public Policy
PLS 495 - Seminar in Political Science (capstone)

Teaching Awards
Pew Teaching Excellence Award, Grand Valley State University

Books and Recent Reports

The Path to Free College: In Pursuit of Access, Equity, and Prosperity, Harvard Education Press, 2021

Promise Nation: Transforming Communities Through Place-Based Scholarships, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, WE Focus series, 2015

The Power of a Promise: Education and Economic Renewal in Kalamazoo, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2009

Owning Up: Poverty, Assets, and the American DreamBrookings Institution Press, 2002

The World Bank: New Agendas in a Changing WorldRoutledge, 1999

Promise Programs Database.  Co-developed with Brad Hershbein and Bridget Timmeney. W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. 2017 (updated 2020).

“Investing in Community: A Playbook for Connecting Economic and Skills Development” (with co-authors), W.E. Upjohn Institute, June 2020.

“Building Shared Prosperity: How Communities Can Create Good Jobs for All” (with co-authors), W.E. Upjohn Institute, March 2019 

“Understanding the Philanthropic Character of Communities: Insights from Two West Michigan Communities,” Report co-authored with Grace Denny, Teri Behrens, and Michael Moody, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy, 2017

Recent Op-Eds

“Free College? Why Wait for the Feds?” (with Brad Hershbein), Governing: The Future of States and Localities, June 14, 2021

“Michigan is offering free college for essential workers. The rest of the country should follow suit” (with Max Lubin), Business Insider, March 22, 2021

“COVID-19 recovery is the time for free college” (with John C. Austin), The Hill, February 11, 2021

“If free college is the goal, start with community college,” Politico, February 4, 2021

“The best medicine for a COVID-19 economy? More education and training” (with John C. Austin), The Hill, October 2, 2020.

“We Need Tuition-Free College. For Adults,” New York Times op-ed, May 14, 2020

“Tuition-free college plan is smart investment in Michigan’s future,” Bridge, May 1, 2020

“What the Free College Movement Can Learn from Kalamazoo,” Washington Monthly, August 23, 2019

Selected Papers and Presentations

“Evidence for Program Design and Evaluation,” White House Community College Convening, Washington, DC, October 2016

“The Impact of Place-Based Scholarship Programs: What Do We Know?” (with Jennifer Iriti), PromiseNet 2016 Research Plenary, Washington, DC, October 2016

“College Promise: Transforming Communities through Place-Based Scholarships,” Keynote speech at Michigan Community College Association Fall Board Meeting, Grand Rapids, MI, October 2016

“Growth, Scope, and Impact of College Promise Programs,” National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges, Mackinac Island, MI, August 2016

Remarks to Education Scholars Convening on Community College Research, The White House, January 2016

“The Evolution of the Promise Scholarship Movement: Policy Diffusion, Reinvention, and Critical Design Issues,” paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Chicago, April 2015

"The Economic Development Impact of Place-Based Scholarship Programs: Initial Results from Kalamazoo, Michigan," paper presented at the 71st Midwest Political Science Association Conference, Chicago, IL, April 2013

"The Kalamazoo Promise and the Revitalization of an Urban School District,” presentation at Looking Back, Moving Forward, A conference on race, class, opportunity and school boundaries in the Richmond region, Richmond, VA, March 2013

"Promise Scholarship Programs: Building Assets for Community Change," presentation at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland 2012 Policy Summit, Cleveland, OH, June 2012

Background and Interests
I have been on the Political Science faculty of Grand Valley State University since 2006, currently teaching courses in international relations and U.S. social policy, as well as the capstone seminar for Political Science majors. I have had the privilege of participating in faculty exchange programs to Perugia, Italy, and Debrecen, Hungary, and was honored to receive a Pew Teaching Excellence Award. As a recipient of the Dr. Russell G. Mawby Fellowship in Philanthropic Studies for two successive years, I collaborated with faculty and staff of GVSU's Johnson Center for Philanthropy to study the philanthropic cultures of Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

In addition to my teaching position at GVSU, I am a senior researcher at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, where I co-direct the institute’s place-based research initiative. I write about the free-college movement and consult with communities interested in implementing place-based scholarship programs. I have served on the planning committee for ten Promisenet conferences and have been co-director of a Lumina Foundation project to study the post-secondary and community outcomes of Promise scholarship programs and a Strada Education Network grant to study the workforce outcomes of such programs. I currently serve on the board of the Campaign for Free College Tuition.

A native of Los Angeles, I live in Kalamazoo with my daughter and two dogs. My hobbies include piano, Zumba, cycling, quilting, and other crafts.



Page last modified September 13, 2021