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Former HHS administrator to speak on welfare reform March 29

Craig Chamberlain, Education Editor
(217) 333-2894;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Peter Edelman was a high-level administrator in the Department of Health and Human Services in 1996 when Bill Clinton signed legislation to reform the welfare system.

Strongly opposed to the bill, Edelman resigned as a result, and wrote an article for The Atlantic Monthly the following year titled "The Worst Thing Bill Clinton Has Done."

On March 29, Edelman will address the issue of welfare in a lecture on the University of Illinois campus. Titled "Poverty and Welfare Policy: Challenges for the New Century," his talk will look at the impact of welfare reform on youth and families, and at the complex relationship between welfare and poverty. Edelman also will address issues such as workers’ income, health coverage, child care, housing and education.

Edelman will speak at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Music Building, 1114 W. Nevada, Urbana. The lecture, free and open to the public, is the 11th Daniel S. Sanders Peace and Social Justice Memorial Lecture, in honor of a past dean of the UI School of Social Work. The lecture is sponsored by the school, with help from other campus units.

A professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center since 1982, Edelman also is the author of a recent book, "Searching for America's Heart: RFK and the Renewal of Hope." A blend of autobiography, policy history and call to action, the book traces the country’s concern for the poor from the "war on poverty" years of the 1960s, when he was a legislative assistant to Senator Robert F. Kennedy, through the Clinton years of the 1990s.

Edelman is the author of over 50 publications, many focusing on issues of poverty and welfare policies, as well as youth and families. At Georgetown, he teaches courses on constitutional, public interest and social welfare law.