Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has appointed TC faculty member Jordan Matsudaira to serve as the department’s first-ever Chief Economist.

Matsudaira, an Associate Professor of Economics & Education currently on leave, will continue to serve the department as a Deputy Under Secretary, a post he has held since the Biden administration took office 18 months ago.

“Jordan is the perfect person to define and carry out the role of Chief Economist,” DOE Under Secretary James Kvaal said in a statement.

In the capacity of Chief Economist, Matsudaira will coordinate DOE higher education strategies with a focus on analysis to support policy-making, conducting research to advance the Department’s learning agenda, and building capacity to use experimentation to learn and improve the Department’s tools to support students and borrowers.

“Leading colleges and universities are already finding proven solutions and using data to identify areas in need of improvement and evidence-based strategies to address them, evaluate the success of their efforts, and measure their progress,” Kvaal said.
Matsudaira, he added, “will help the Department of Education lead by example, and I hope the broader research community will find him a helpful ally in helping the Department and the field to better integrate cutting-edge research and evidence into practice and policy.”

The DOE is Matsudaira’s second stop at the highest reaches of the federal government. His policy achievements as a Senior Economist and Chief Economist with the White House Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama administration included raising the minimum wage for federal contractors.

Matsudaira additionally led an Obama White House effort to develop a data-based College Scoreboard to measure student outcomes.

When first appointed to the Biden Administration in early 2021, Matsudaira shared key insight to the distinct shift in the work of the Department of Education compared to 13 years prior: “We need to address the very real health concerns and economic constraints that are keeping students away from college, and to help bring them back.”

Matsudaira joined the program in Economics & Education, part of the Education Policy & Social Analysis Department, in 2018. His research is focused on government administrative data to gauge economic outcomes for low-income Americans through the prism of education and labor market policies.

The TC faculty member “has worked with higher education systems and state governments to develop data infrastructure and research partnerships to support data-driven decision making—a focus of this Administration,” Kvaal said. “And he’s experienced in bringing rigorous data analysis and evidence to crafting policy at the highest levels of government.”

Matsudaira holds additional posts as a Senior Researcher with TC’s Community College Research Center, a non-resident fellow with the Income & Benefits Policy Center at Washington-based Urban Institute and as a Visiting Associate Professor with Princeton University’s School of Public & International Affairs.

Matsudaira co-authored a 2020 study that spotlighted the eight million Americans who fell below the poverty line with the expiration of emergency funding at the outset of the pandemic.

Matsudaira earned an undergraduate degree at Union College, a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Ph.D. in Economics and Public Policy from the University of Michigan.