John Edwards ’77 (JD), North Carolina’s former U.S. senator and the Democratic Party’s 2004 vice presidential candidate, will lead a new center being launched by Carolina to seek solutions to poverty.
The Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity will be a nonpartisan initiative, bringing together UNC faculty and other national public-policy experts to examine innovative and practical ideas for moving more Americans out of poverty and into the middle class. The center will have an advisory committee of senior faculty representing multiple disciplines across campus. In addition to leading the center, Edwards also will serve as a guest lecturer on campus.
“John Edwards is a distinguished Carolina alumnus, and we are delighted that he will return to campus to bring together today’s best minds to focus on issues that affect us all,” Chancellor James Moeser said.
Edwards spent six years in the U.S. Senate. His policy initiatives included working to raise the minimum wage, expand the earned income tax credit, create matching savings accounts for low-income families, and provide incentives for teachers to teach in low-income schools. He also focused on poverty during last year’s presidential campaign.
“The time I spent at Chapel Hill gave me many of the tools I have used all my life to help those who are struggling, and I am so proud that I will be able to continue this work and also give something back to [UNC],” Edwards said. “As director of the center, I will work to explore creative approaches to the difficulties that families in poverty face every day.”
“John Edwards will be a marvelous resource for faculty and students across campus,” said law school Dean Gene Nichol. “His life experiences as well as his time as senator and vice presidential candidate make him ideally suited to lead this new center.”
Edwards will hold a part-time, two-year, fixed-term faculty position and will be designated a University Professor and hold an Alumni Distinguished Professorship, which is funded by private gifts to the University. It takes effect Feb. 14.
Edwards is a 1977 graduate of the School of Law. His wife, Elizabeth Edwards ’71, earned her bachelor’s degree in English and a law degree from UNC in ’77. She has served on the UNC’s Board of Visitors since 2001. The Edwards family plans to move to Chapel Hill this spring.