Scholar and former Obama appointee David Weil named dean of the Heller School

Weil, a BU professor, formerly served as administrator for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division

David Weil
Waltham, MA (May 18) – Brandeis University has named David Weil dean of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, effective August 14. Weil, who will also become a full professor on the Heller faculty, currently serves as the Peter and Deborah Wexler Professor of Management at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.  

In 2014, Weil took a leave from BU after former President Barack Obama appointed him to head the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor, which is charged with promoting and achieving compliance with fundamental labor standards, including those related to the minimum wage, overtime, child labor and family medical leave.

“Throughout his distinguished career in government and academia, David has focused on the potential of public policy to improve society, and his work reflects a clarity in thinking that is badly needed in our public policy discussions,” said Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz. “Under his leadership, Brandeis’ Heller School is poised for even greater influence in applying policy research and analysis to tackling our most critical social issues, and Heller students, faculty and researchers will continue to exemplify Brandeis’ core value of using one’s talents to improve the world.”

In his new role at Heller, Weil will lead a policy school and research institution focused on driving positive social change through research, education and public engagement to address disparities in well-being across fields, from health care to sustainable development. Its nearly 500 graduate students come from 60 different countries. Consistently ranked as a top-10 school of social policy, Heller generates $19 million annually in sponsored research.

During his tenure at the Wage and Hour Division, Weil fundamentally shifted the agency toward a more proactive, data-driven approach to enforcing and updating labor protections that affect more than 135 million U.S. workers in 7.3 million workplaces. This shift included a comprehensive review of how the division deployed its 1,000 investigators to protect vulnerable workers in businesses across the country, as well as the extension of overtime protections to more than 4.2 million workers previously not covered by overtime. Weil described these changes as critical to achieving the agency’s mission of “making sure working people get a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.”

“I believe that inequality is the central issue of our time, and addressing it is at the core of Heller’s mission,” Weil said. “My focus will be on how we, as an institution, understand and address that problem across society, including in the workplace, in the health care system, in education and in the relationships among different groups in society. I am deeply invested in being part of the Heller community’s collective search for next-level solutions.”  

Weil is an internationally recognized expert in employment and labor market policy. In addition to his long career at Boston University, he co-founded and co-directed the Transparency Policy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He has advised international organizations as well as government agencies at the state and federal levels. He is also the author of more than 100 articles and five books, including, most recently, “The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It,” which examines how practices like outsourcing change business organizations and erode relationships between employers and their workers.

Weil earned a bachelor’s degree at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, a master’s in public policy at the Kennedy School, and a PhD in public policy at Harvard. His research has been supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

“David’s scholarship and public leadership personifies Heller’s vision of ‘knowledge advancing social justice,’” said Thomas Shapiro, director of Heller’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy. “These qualities are so needed right now, amid widening inequality and a hostile policy landscape that threatens to strip protections from vulnerable communities. David’s commitment to social justice, diversity and inclusion will further energize our students, faculty, staff and alumni in connecting our mission to evidence-based practice.”

“David Weil is the right leader for Heller at a critical time,” said Brandeis Provost Lisa M. Lynch, the Maurice B. Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy, who formerly served as Heller’s dean. “Heller may be diverse in its student body, scholars, programs and research areas, but it is united in advancing knowledge that promotes social change.”

Lynch thanked the search committee, composed of faculty, students, staff and board members, for generously devoting their time to a careful, thorough search. The search committee was led by Shapiro and Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, director of Heller’s Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy, and supported by the search firm Spencer Stuart.

Lynch also thanked Heller professor emerita Marty M. Krauss, PhD’81, for serving as interim dean at Heller since 2014.

“The university community is grateful to Marty for her commitment to Heller and Brandeis, which she displayed in spending her entire academic career here, serving as provost for the university and later as interim dean at Heller,” Lynch said. “Her work as a scholar, teacher and administrator has left a lasting legacy at the university.”

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