Prominent Labor Economist Named as WMU's Next President

Apr 12, 2017

Edward B. Montgomery at Western Michigan University on Wednesday
Credit Sehvilla Mann / WMUK


The man who served as the Obama administration’s “car czar” is the next leader of Western Michigan University. 

Edward B. Montgomery is an economist who has worked for two US Presidents. He served as deputy secretary of labor under Bill Clinton, and later joined former President Obama’s task force on the auto industry during its recession-era crisis.

Montgomery has also had a long academic career. Right now he’s a dean at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He has also held faculty positions at Michigan State University, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Maryland.

Montgomery says as president of Western, he expects to draw on his experience at the Department of Labor, where he managed operations for the $30 billion department. He says the people who lead Western’s various departments know their needs best.

“And so what I need to do first is learn from them, see what the issues are, see where we can do things together,” he said Wednesday.

He told Western’s trustees that the school can help to solve social problems and drive economic growth.

“But in so doing we must not lose sight of the fact that universities have a duty to promote unbound curiosity. And to foster inquiry and creativity even where there’s no immediate short-term payoff,” he said.