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Honoring Her Father’s MSU Legacy

Graduate fellowship in Economics supports diversity, equity and inclusion

A black and white photo of Dr. W. Paul Strassmann.

Honoring Her Father’s MSU Legacy

Graduate fellowship in Economics supports diversity, equity and inclusion

The late Dr. W. Paul Strassmann escaped Nazi Germany as a child. He later earned a PhD from the University of Maryland and became an MSU professor of Economics, devoting his 39-year career to researching economic inequality and the intersection of poverty and political oppression.

To honor her father’s commitment, Diana L. Strassmann, recently made a gift to establish the Department of Economics’ Strassmann Fellowship to promote diversity, equity and inclusion.

Paul Strassmann recognized the importance of nurturing scholars from diverse communities, whose insights and focus on populations not well represented within the economics profession would lead to better economic policies. His passion carried over to the next generation. Diana is on the faculty of Rice University where she directs the program on Poverty, Justice and Human Capabilities. She is a leading expert in the field of feminist economics.

The fellowship will support graduate students who advance diversity, equity and inclusion within the department with preference for:

  • students who attended a historically black college or university,
  • students whose research focuses on topics such as race and ethnicity, global development, inequality and barriers to equitable human advancement,
  • or alumni of the American Economic Association Summer Program (AEASP), a prestigious opportunity that seeks to increase diversity in the field of economics by preparing talented undergraduates for doctoral programs in economics or related disciplines.

"I am honored to continue my father’s legacy of providing opportunities to underrepresented voices,” says Diana, "and look forward to the potentially transformative research the graduate students receiving this fellowship will conduct."

MSU was chosen as the host university for the AEASP from 2016 through 2020. The availability of the fellowship to program alumni will aid the department’s ongoing efforts to support the program’s mission.

A cohort of students from the American Economic Association Summer Program (AEASP).

"We are so thankful for this gift, and excited for the opportunities it will create for our graduate students, our department, and our profession," says Steven Haider, department chairperson. “I cannot imagine a more fitting tribute to Paul’s legacy.”

LEARN MORE about support for the College of Social Science by contacting Alex Tripp at or by calling (517) 884-2189.  

READ MORE about the late Dr. Strassmann’s work, and the Strassmann Fellowship.