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Lee Rainwater Memorial Lecture Series

Lee Rainwater
January 7, 1928 – July 4, 2015

This lecture series, launched in 2017, is in honor of Lee Rainwater – our colleague, coauthor, mentor, and friend. The series recognizes Lee’s brilliant and creative academic career as well as his role as founding Research Director of the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS).

The series features an annual lecture, with the speakers selected by a committee comprised of the series’ donors. The location of the lectures alternates between Harvard University (where Lee spent much of his career) and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (which houses the US Office of LIS).

The series aims to highlight new research within the many substantive areas where Lee made profound intellectual contributions, including poverty, inequality, urban culture, and social policy, and spans both American and cross-national studies. To honor Lee’s remarkable career trajectory, the series includes scholars using an array and mix of methods – theoretical, qualitative/ethnographic, and quantitative – and from multiple disciplines, including sociology, economics, political science, and policy studies. In short, we intend to include scholars whose work captures “all of Lee”, from Behind Ghetto Walls and What Money Buys to, thirty years later, Poor Kids in a Rich Country and Wealth and Welfare States – and countless contributions in between. Invited lecturers will be chosen to reflect a diversity of backgrounds.

On April 6, 2017, the Swedish sociologist Robert Erikson delivered the first Lee Rainwater Memorial Lecture, titled “Social Selection in Education and its Consequences for Mobility". The inaugural lecture, presented at Harvard University, was jointly hosted by the Stone Center and the Harvard Sociology Department.  

The second Lee Rainwater Memorial Lecture was presented at the CUNY Graduate Center on September 20, 2018 by Professor Kathryn Edin, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University.  Edin, a sociologist, is one of the nation’s leading experts on the lives of low-income women, men, and children. Her lecture is titled "The Tenous Ties of Working Class Men."

The series is administered by Janet Gornick and Tim Smeeding.
Here we recognize the founding donors:

  • The Rainwater Family
  • Tim Smeeding and Marcy Carlson
  • Janet Gornick
  • Irv Garfinkel and Sara McLanahan
  • Christopher Jencks
  • Herbert J. Gans
  • Gerald and Ruth Handel
  • Tony and Judith Atkinson
  • Markus J√§ntti
  • Koen Vleminckx and Ann Verboven
  • Andrea Brandolini and Luisa Minghetti
  • LIS: Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg
  • The CUNY Graduate Center Sociology Program
  • The Harvard Sociology Department (donation of space)

Further contributions will always be welcomed.

Please contact Janet Gornick or Tim Smeeding.