AUSTIN, Texas, March 7, 2017 – Angela M. Evans, Dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, recently announced the selection of Associate Professor Todd Olmstead as Associate Dean for Academic Strategies and Associate Professor Varun Rai as Associate Dean for Research.
“With these new appointments, the LBJ School’s ability to continue to attract top public policy students from around the globe and to provide a first class academic and experiential curriculum will be enhanced significantly,” said Dean Evans. “Professor Olmstead and Professor Rai have demonstrated a strong commitment to opening new avenues for collaboration, discovery, and advancement throughout the School and the University in the areas of innovation and public policy research.”
Dr. Rai is filling the Associate Dean position previously held by Dr. Peter Ward, who stepped down in September 2016. Dr. Olmstead will replace Dr. Chandler Stolp, current Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. The new appointments are effective August 2017.
Associate Dean for Academic Strategies Todd Olmstead
In his new role as Associate Dean, Dr. Olmstead will work with faculty and administration to transform the curriculum and content of the LBJ School’s academic programming to better meet the needs and demands of a new generation of public policy students. In particular, Dr. Olmstead will be focused on coordinating novel, innovation-focused teaching and experiential opportunities across the School’s degree and dual degree programs. He will also foster visibility for the School and engagement with a range of interdisciplinary initiatives on and beyond the UT Austin campus, advancing the School’s reputation, image and brand nationally and internationally.
“I am looking forward to working with faculty to better align what students learn with what they will need to succeed after the LBJ School in the current public policy environment, which is undergoing historic and generational changes,” said Dr. Olmstead.
Dr. Olmstead is currently the James M. and Claudia U. Richter Fellow in Global Health Policy at the LBJ School. He is a health economist who conducts economic evaluations of a wide variety of health care interventions and evidence-based practices, and he has contributed to numerous large National Institutes of Health grants in the area of behavioral health. He received his Ph.D. in public policy from Harvard University and also holds two master’s degrees, in both operations research and industrial engineering.
Associate Dean for Research Varun Rai
As Associate Dean for Research, Dr. Rai will oversee the LBJ School’s broad portfolio of research efforts, facilitating funding, support, and structure for various innovative research initiatives. He will lead the development of a new research planning strategy and assess the resources and enhancements necessary for long-term implementation. Additionally, Dr. Rai will represent the LBJ School in University-wide research programs and operations, and serve as the central point of contact for the scholarship emerging from the School, facilitating a broad dissemination of innovative policy research generated at the LBJ School to scholarly and policy environments.
“The LBJ School’s innovative research is having deep impact in a range of important policy areas,” said Dr. Rai. “I am excited about the opportunity to work with the LBJ School’s highly talented faculty and student body to catalyze broader research collaborations with researchers and units within and beyond UT Austin, foster interdisciplinary research, and facilitate the translation of the School’s innovative policy research into effective policy impact.”
Dr. Rai currently directs the Energy Systems Transformation Research Group at the LBJ School and is a Faculty Affiliate at UT Austin's Energy Institute. He has held the Elspeth Rostow Centennial Fellowship since 2010 and was a Global Economic Fellow in 2009. From 2013–2015 he served as a commissioner for Austin Energy, the vertically-integrated, municipal electric utility for the City of Austin. Additionally, Dr. Rai serves on the Editorial Board of both The Electricity Journal and Energy Research & Social Science, for which he is also an Associate Editor.
Dr. Rai received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. His unique body of research work at the interface of energy systems, behavioral sciences, complex systems, and public policy is consistently lauded for its interdisciplinary and highly synergetic nature. Most recently, he was recognized with the David N. Kershaw Award and Prize from the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, established to honor persons who, at under the age of 40, have made a distinguished contribution to the field of public policy analysis and management.