Miller Center

Miller Center National Fellowship

Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, the National Fellowship Program, a longstanding initiative of the Miller Center, will fall under the leadership of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation at U.Va.. The Jefferson Scholars Foundation, created in 1980, currently offers the premier graduate fellowship and undergraduate scholarship at the University. To learn more about the National Fellows Program, including how to apply, click here.

Meet The Fellows

Nancy A. Banks - History, Columbia University

Project: The Struggle over Affirmative Action in the New York City Building Trades, 1961–1976

Banks photo

Fellowship year: 2004

Mentor: Thomas Sugrue, University of Pennsylvania

Nancy Banks is the Dean of Students at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.

While much scholarly work has been devoted to federal civil rights policy in the 1960s – including several studies on the growing commitment by the civil rights movement and the federal government in that decade to Affirmative Action – Banks believed there had been scant attention paid to Affirmative Action as it relates to the building trades unions, nor to the bitter and lengthy conflicts between civil rights activists, minority workers, and union members. Drawing upon a number of sources – including government documents and court records; the correspondence of political leaders, union officials, and civil rights organizations; and personal interviews with workers, politicians, and labor activists – Banks dissertation explored how Affirmative Action conflicts played out in New York City between 1961 and 1976, and analyzed the impact that they had on the development, implementation, and evolution of the nation's union-targeted affirmative action policies.


Rebecca Bohrman - Political Science, Yale University

Project: Sifting Immigrants: The Political and Historical Roots of Administrative Failure in the I.N.S.

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Bohrman has over seven years of corporate research experience, in which she has used her qualitative and quantitative research skills to help clients with benchmarking, media strategies, corporate social responsibility campaigns, media monitoring, corporate crises, internal and external communications, and executive transitions.

In her dissertation, she argued that the INS's problems can be traced to its institutional design, and that these problems are perpetuated by the particular alignment of political conflict over immigration issues. Immigration administration is at the center of American politics, affecting everyone from legal and undocumented immigrants to workers and employers, yet Immigration and Naturalization Service has been troubled since its inception. Bohrman's dissertation explained why the INS has been an agency in disarray, by answering the question: why has Congress so rarely tried and even more rarely succeeded in giving the INS greater administrative capacity?


Kathleen Grammatico Ferraiolo - Government, University of Virginia

Project: A Theory of Drug Control Policy in the Twentieth Century and the Success of Drug Law Reform in the 1990s

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Fellowship year: 2004

Mentor: Mark Landy, Boston College

Kathleen Grammatico Ferraiolo is Associate Professor of Political Science at James Madison University.

Ferraiolo's research agenda focuses primarily on direct democracy as a policymaking institution in the American states. Current projects examine state legislators’ response to successful initiatives, the federalism implications of direct democracy, and variations in state and federal approaches to morality policies including drug control and gambling. 

Ferraiolo's dissertation explained the success of medical marijuana initiatives and the willingness of a majority of Americans to reject an important component of federal drug policy. She began by placing the medical marijuana movement in the historical context of twentieth century federal drug control policy. Ferraiolo argued that the institutional locus of control over policy, the way the drug issue was framed, and the formulators and administrators of policy created a federal drug control regime that was highly resistant to fundamental reform. Further, she proposed that changes in these factors – a shift in institutional venue from the federal government to the states and the direct democracy process, a new way of framing drug policy debates that emphasized patient rights and compassion, and an alliance between marijuana activists and political campaign professionals who had the resources to challenge the federal government – helped bring about policy change.

Selected Recent Publications

"Selective Media Exposure and Partisan Differences about Sarah Palin's Candidacy.” with David A. Jones and Jennifer Byrne, Politics & Policy 39, no. 2 (April 2011): 195-221


Lori Fritz - Political Science, University of Virginia

Project: Weaving the Safety Net, Strand by Strand: State Health Care Regimes

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Fellowship year: 2004

Mentor: Chris Howard, College of William & Mary

Lori Fritz is an analyst with the Government Accountability Office in Washington, D.C.

Fritz's dissertation examined health care policy at the state level in light of previous work on the historical development of the "private welfare state" in health care. As with earlier studies focusing on national politics, she found that the fragmentation of the health care system into private and public sectors posed significant obstacles to policies intended to increase access to health care. However, state governments were being driven to find new ways to overcome this fragmentation and ensure better health care for their citizens, often through innovative institutional arrangements such as commissions and task forces that are outside the usual realm of politics. Fritz's study included case analyses of Florida and Pennsylvania – two states that took different approaches toward health system reform.


Derek S. Hoff - History, University of Virginia

Project: Are We Too Many?: The Political Economy of Population in the Twentieth-Century United States

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Derek S. Hoff is Associate Professor of History at the University of Utah.

Hoff's research interests include the role of natural monopoly theory in the rise of the regulation of the telephone industry in the 19th century, development of inheritance tax, and the history of income inequality across industrialized nations.

Hoff's dissertation discussed a history of the population debate in the modern United States. In particular, it focused on the subset of that debate that focuses on the interrelationship between demography and the economy. Most histories of "population" in America center on cultural and ethnic questions such as the early-century eugenics movement and the nation's recurrent anti-immigrationism. Hoff's study returned the economic-demographic debate to the center of not only the course of population thought and policy, but also the larger American political economy. 

Selected Recent Publications

The State and the Stork: The Population Debate and Policy Making in US History (University of Chicago Press, 2012).

The False Alarm over U.S. Fertility." New York Times, April 16, 2013.

Fighting Foreclosure: The Blaisdell Case, The Contract Clause, and the Great Depressionwith John Fliter (University Press of Kansas, 2012).

A Modest Proposal for a New Population Debate." Need to Know, PBS, July 2012.


Shelley L. Hurt - Political Science, The New School for Social Research

Project: Institutionalizing Food Power: U.S. Foreign Policy, Intellectual Property Rights, and the Agricultural Biotechnology Industry, 1972–1994

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Fellowship year: 2004

Mentor: Ronnie Lipschutz, University of California, Santa Cruz

Shelley L. Hurt is Assistant Professor of Political Science Department at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

Hurt teaches courses on Biological and Chemical Arms Control and Development, Security Studies in Global Perspective, Science, Technology, Power and Politics, War, Trade, and American Political development. Her research interests include U.S. foreign policy, science and technology policy, security studies, international law and organizations, globalization, and American political development.

Hurt's dissertation investigated U.S. policymakers' use of the market and law, domestically and internationally, to foster a favorable climate for the agricultural biotechnology industry. She hypothesized that this state strategy evolved in response to declining U.S. hegemony in the early 1970s when the pressure of international competition became a paramount concern for U.S. officials. Subsequently, food came to be seen as a fundamental national resource with the potential to propel the U.S. back into an undisputed hegemonic position. She argued that in response to this geopolitical pressure, U.S. policymakers and courts enacted a complex set of legal rules and regulations to create the conditions for this industry to flourish. The culmination of these domestic policies led to U.S. insistence on incorporating the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement into the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Selected Recent Publications

Hybrid Rule and State Formation: Public-Private Power in the 21st Century. with Ronnie D. Lipschutz, eds. (Routledge Press, 2015)

"Military's Hidden Hand: Understanding the Origins of Biotechnology in the American Context, 1969-1972." in State of Innovation: The U.S. Government's Role in Technology Development, Fred Block and Matthew Keller, eds (Colorado: Paradigm Publishers, 2011).


Alethia Jones - Political Science, Yale University

Project: Bootstraps and Beltways: The State's Role in Immigrant Self-Help

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Fellowship year: 2004

Mentor: Mark Stern, University of Pennsylvania

Alethia Jones is Director of Education and Leadership Development at 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

Jones' research and teaching fields are urban studies and community development; the public policy process; race, ethnicity and politics; and, historical political science.

Jones' dissertation examined the politics surrounding informal immigrant financial practices to understand the relationship between state power and self-help in immigrant incorporation. The three cases Jones studied come from the two periods of highest immigration and permit us to see continuities from the past as well as account for different racial and political contexts. She additionally added an institutional dimension to the story of how politics affects the incorporation of immigrants. Unlike other studies that reinforce the classic "up by their bootstraps" immigrant, self-help story, this project specified the structure of the relationship between informal and formal institutions and the state.

Selected Recent Publications

Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith, ed. with Virginia Eubanks (SUNY Press, 2014).

"Identity Politics: Part of a Reinvigorated Class Politics.New Labor Forum, November 5, 2010.


Kimberly Phillips-Fein - History, Columbia University

Project: Top-Down Revolution: The Birth of Free Market Politics in America and the Backlash Against the New Deal

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Kimberly Phillips-Fein is Associate Professor of Economic Thought and History at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

As a historian of twentieth-century American politics, she teaches courses in American political, business, and labor history. Her first book, Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan, was published by W. W. Norton in 2009. She has contributed to essay collections published by Harvard University Press, University of Pennsylvania Press, and Routledge and to journals such as Reviews in American History and International Labor and Working-Class History. She is a contributing editor to Labor: Studies in Working-Class History in the Americas, where her work has also appeared. Professor Phillips-Fein has written widely for publications including The Nation, London Review of Books, New Labor Forum, to which she has contributed articles and reviews. She was given a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars, Artists and Writers at the New York Public Library for 2014-2015 for work on her forthcoming book, Fear City: The New York City Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of the Age of Austerity.

Selected Recent Publications

 “Why Workers Won’t UniteThe Atlantic, March 16, 2015.

Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan (W.W. Norton & Company, 2009).


Christopher Schmidt - History of American Civilization, Harvard University

Project: Postwar Liberalism and the Origins of Brown v. Board of Education

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Fellowship year: 2004

Mentor: Michael Klarman, Harvard University Law School

Christopher W. Schmidt is Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States (ISCOTUS) at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago-Kent.

Schmidt teaches in the areas of constitutional law, legal history, comparative constitutional law, and sports law. He has written on a variety of topics, including the political and intellectual context surrounding the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the Tea Party as a constitutional movement, how Supreme Court Justices communicate with the American people, the Supreme Court's decision in the health care case, and the rise of free agency in Major League Baseball. He is currently writing a book on the legal history of the student lunch counter sit-in movement of 1960.

Schmidt's dissertation followed the genesis of the 20th century American Civil Rights movement. Prior to the 1940s, the United States government had done little to promote racial equality for well over half a century, yet by the mid-1950s this situation was transformed, creating the foundations on which the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and 1960s would be built. Schmidt's dissertation explained the dramatic policy shift by analyzing the origins of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court's landmark 1954 school desegregation opinion. His project's central motivating question: why did the nine justices of the Supreme Court, whose political and ideological affinities varied considerably, decide to make, at this time and place, a statement against blatant legalized racial discrimination? His answer to this question drew on the context of liberal thought and culture in early postwar America as well as the particular legal issues confronted by the justices. Currently, Schmidt is revising his dissertation, "Creating Brown v. Board of Education: Ideology and Constitutional Change, 1945-1955," for publication.

Selected Recent Publications

"Divided by Law: The Sit-Ins and the Role of the Courts in the Civil Rights Movement." Law and History Review (November 2013).


Tracy Steffes - History, University of Chicago

Project: A New Education for a Modern Age: National Reform, State-building, and the Transformation of American Schooling, 1890-1933

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Fellowship year: 2004

Mentor: Jonathan Zimmerman, New York University

Tracy Steffes is Associate Professor of Education and History at Brown University.

She teaches courses on American educational history. Her research interests include the development of American education system, citizenship, social and democratic theory and practice, state-building and social movements. 

Steffe's dissertation examined the national systematization of American education as public schooling was standardized across the United States from 1880 to 1930 and formulated into a single, hierarchical system. She argued that the expansion of state authority over schooling and the growth of state-level educational administration from 1880 to 1930 enabled a national-level coordination and systematization of schooling which amounted to the origins of a national education system. While the federal government played a role in creating this system, national systematization emerged through a complicated process of cooperation and competition between private and public actors at local, state, and national levels. As states assumed greater regulatory and oversight powers over local schools, they looked to one another and to national structures for guidance in shaping their school systems, cooperating in some respects and competing in others. American schooling, like American governance more generally, was powerfully shaped by traditions of federalism and private power and thus looked and operated very differently than national systems abroad.

Selected Recent Publications

School, Society, & State: A New Education to Govern Modern America, 1890-1940. University of Chicago Press, 2012


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