University at Albany

Thomas Gais Named Director of UAlbany’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

Thomas Gais

Thomas L. Gais has been named director of the University at Albany's Nelson A. Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, the public policy research arm of the State University of New York.

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 1, 2010) -- Thomas L. Gais has been named director of the University at Albany's Rockefeller Institute of Government, the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. Gais, who joined the Rockefeller Institute 16 years ago, served as co-director from 2005 to 2009, and as acting director since November 2009. The selection of Gais as Institute director is the result of a nationwide search.

Gais joined the Rockefeller Institute in 1994 as a Fellow. He directed the Institute’s Federalism Research Group from 1996 to 2005, when he became the Institute's co-director. He was named acting director in November 2009, upon the retirement of Richard P. Nathan, who had led the Institute for 20 years.

The Rockefeller Institute researches, publishes and educates on public policy issues relating to the 50 states and the local governments within them. While maintaining a special focus on New York State, its work focuses on state fiscal issues, federalism, and state implementation of national initiatives, including health care reform, social welfare programs, urban policies, and education reforms.

"I am confident that under Thomas Gais the Institute will continue to be instrumental in guiding state and local leadership in public policy," said University at Albany President George M. Philip.

"I am delighted and honored to accept this position to lead the Rockefeller Institute," Gais said. "The Institute is entering a period of enormous opportunity to inform and assist state and local governments. Budgets are tight but the demand for services and state leadership is high. We are well-positioned to provide the knowledge that governments need to meet these challenges and to leverage our strong relationships with the University at Albany and its Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, as well as the statewide SUNY system and colleagues in other states."

Nathan called Gais "a brilliant social scientist -- a policy researcher of the highest integrity, with a deep and abiding expertise on American federalism and state government."

"Having the world-class Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government associated with Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy enhances our ability to conduct high level, non-partisan policy analysis on many of the pressing issues we face as a nation," said Rockefeller College Dean Jeffrey D. Straussman.

Gais earned his doctorate in political science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research and writing has focused on state and local social policies and expenditures, the role and effectiveness of faith-based service providers, changes in U.S. federalism (with special emphasis on the growing power of the federal executive over state policies), state implementation of welfare reforms, state constitutions, campaign finance reform, and the growth and roles of interest groups in American politics. He has authored more than 40 publications, including books, chapters, articles in academic journals, textbook chapters, and government reports. His recent work includes serving as part of the Rockefeller Institute team that is advising New York Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch’s initiative to require structural budgetary balance for the state.

Before joining the Institute, Gais served as a senior policy analyst for the State of Wisconsin and as an instructor of political science at Barnard College of Columbia University.

Founded in 1981 and based in Albany, N.Y., the Rockefeller Institute operates under the aegis of the University at Albany within the State University of New York (SUNY) system, and often draws upon or coordinates with University resources. The primary goal of the Institute is to develop findings that state and local governments can use to become more effective.