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Gary Orfield, Ph.D.

Professor, UCLA Graduate School of Education; 
Co-Director, The Civil Rights Project at UCLA

Gary Orfield

Gary Orfield is Distinguished Research Professor of Education, Law, Political Science and Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Orfield's research interests are in the study of civil rights, education policy, urban policy, and minority opportunity. He was co-founder and director of the Harvard Civil Rights Project, and now serves as co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA. His central interest has been the development and implementation of social policy, with a central focus on the impact of policy on equal opportunity for success in American society. Recent works include eight co-authored or co-edited books since 2004 and numerous articles and reports. On October 24, 2013, Dr. Orfield presented "A New Civil Rights Agenda for American Education: Creating Opportunity in a Stratified Multiracial Nation" as part of the American Education Research Association’s Brown Lectures, inaugurated to commemorate the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. His "A Life in Civil Rights," appeared in the October 2010 issue of PS: Political Science & Politics. Recent books co-edited or co-authored with E. Frankenberg include, The Resegregation of Suburban Schools:  A Hidden Crisis in American Education (2013) and Educational Delusions? Why Choice Can Deepen Inequality and How to Make Schools Fair  (2013), as well as Twenty-First Century Color Lines (2008) with Andrew Grant-Thomas. Others are Dropouts in America: Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis (2004); (with John Boger) School Resegregation: Must the South Turn Back?  (2005); and (with Patricia Marin and Catherine Horn) Higher Education and the Color Line (2005). He is currently working on studies of the impacts of the major civil rights and educational policies of the l960s.

In addition to his scholarly work, Orfield has been involved in the development of governmental policy and has served as an expert witness or special master in several dozen court cases related to his research, including the University of Michigan Supreme Court case which upheld the policy of affirmative action in 2003 and has been called to give testimony in civil rights suits by the United States Department of Justice and many civil rights, legal services, and educational organizations.

Orfield was awarded the 2017 AERA's Division L's Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes a lifetime of achievement in educational policy research. The award committee considers the quality of research, rigor, insight and/or contribution to policy and policy debates. A committee reviews nominations only once every two years. 

He was also awarded the American Political Science Association's Charles Merriam Award for his "contribution to the art of government through the application of social science research." He has been awarded the 2007 Social Justice in Education Award by the American Educational Research Association for "work which has had a profound impact on demonstrating the critical role of education research in supporting social justice." He is a member of the National Academy of Education. A native Minnesotan, Orfield received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and travels extensively in Latin America.

In addition to the work mentioned above, Professor Orfield's principal publications include a many reports on the national progress of desegregation during the last three decades, studies of civil rights policy, housing, and access to higher education, and the following books:

  • Lessons In Integration: Realizing the Promise of Racial Diversity in America's Public Schools (with E. Frankenberg) (2007)
  • Expanding Opportunity in Higher Education (with P. Gandara and C. Horn) (2006)
  • Latino Educational Opportunity: New Directions for Community Colleges, 133 (2) (with C. Horn and S. Flores) (2006)
  • NCLB Meets School Realities: Lessons from the Field (with G. Sunderman and J. Kim) (2005)
  • Dropouts in America: Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis (Editor) (2004)
  • Racial Inequity in Special Education (with D. Losen) (2002)
  • Diversity Challenged: Evidence on the Impact of Affirmative Action (with M. Kurlaender) (2001)
  • Raising Standards or Raising Barriers (with M. Kornhaber) (1999)
  • Religion, Race and Justice in a Changing America (with H. Lebowitz) (1999)
  • Chilling Admissions: The Affirmative Action Crisis and the Search for Alternatives (with E. Miller)
  • Dismantling Desegregation: The Quiet Reversal of Brown vs. Board of Education (with S. Eaton) (1996)
  • Who Chooses? Who Loses? (with B. Fuller and R. Elmore) (1996)
  • The Closing Door: Conservative Policies and Black Opportunity (with C. Ashkinaze) (1991)
  • Must We Bus? Segregated Schools and National Policy (1978)
  • Congressional Power: Congress and Social Change (1975)


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