Washington and Lee University selected as home for SHECP

Washington and Lee UniversityWashington and Lee University has been selected as the new academic home of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty following a competitive application process.

The move marks a return of SHECP to W&L’s campus, where the first Shepherd Program was established thanks to a 1996 gift from W&L alumnus Tom Shepherd ’52 and his wife, Nancy, and where the consortium was established in 1998 as the Shepherd Poverty Alliance under the leadership of Harlan Beckley, the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion Emeritus at W&L.

SHECP has since grown into a nonprofit association of 23 institutions of higher education in the United States, dedicated to preparing students with various majors, backgrounds, perspectives and career paths for a lifetime of professional and civic engagement that will diminish poverty and promote human capability and dignity. In 2021, SHECP provided 155 students summer internships with 111 poverty-focused nonprofit and governmental agencies. To date, more than 1,800 students have participated in its summer internship program.

“We are delighted to welcome SHECP back to W&L,” said William C. Dudley, president of Washington and Lee. “SHECP’s mission to prepare students for a lifetime of professional and civic efforts to diminish poverty and enhance human capability mirrors our own of preparing W&L graduates for responsible leadership, service to others and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society. W&L’s Shepherd Poverty Program contributes directly to our mission, and we are excited by the opportunities that hosting the consortium will create for both SHECP and W&L.”

As part of the transition, Timothy M. Diette, professor of economics and senior advisor to the president for strategic analysis at W&L, will become SHECP’s new executive director, effective immediately, replacing Jim Langford, who stepped down from the role in August. Diette, who has been active in the Shepherd Program at W&L as a core faculty member since 2006, served as acting director of the program during the 2020–21 academic year.

As executive director, Diette will manage SHECP operations; develop new collaborative teaching, learning and research opportunities with a variety of schools to build new relationships; and strengthen existing connections within the consortium. He will step down from his role as senior advisor to the president but maintain his faculty status at W&L, teaching courses that enhance the W&L Shepherd Program’s offerings.

Kristin Harper of Birmingham-Southern College, chair of the SHECP governing board, expressed the board’s appreciation for Mr. Langford and enthusiasm for the consortium’s return to W&L. “We ​appreciate Jim Langford for his faithful work guiding us through a very challenging two years as executive director of SHECP,” said Harper. “Looking ahead, we are thrilled to partner with W&L as our new academic home. In its work with SHECP since the consortium’s inception, W&L has demonstrated a deep commitment to the important work that we do to lead the development of undergraduate poverty studies programs ​across the country. We are excited to work with ​Dr. ​Tim Diette and his staff to expand the consortium and continue our work of preparing students for a lifetime of professional and civic efforts to diminish poverty.”

Diette joined W&L’s Office of the President as senior advisor to the president for strategic analysis in June of 2018. He had previously served as the associate dean of the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics and as the acting head of the Economics Department. He joined Washington and Lee in 2004 as a visiting professor and became a tenure-track faculty member in 2006. He had previous experience working in the finance departments at Bank of America and Wachovia followed by a stint as an economist for the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

Diette has taught courses on the economics of education and health economics. In this new role he will teach the interdisciplinary introduction to poverty and human capability and a new course on race, class and education policy. His research focuses on issues related to race, poverty and inequality in the areas of education, health and social policy. Based on his research, he testified before a Canadian House of Commons committee on the topic of poverty reduction strategies.

“The Shepherd Program at W&L has been at the heart of my teaching, mentoring of students and research for the past two decades,” said Diette. “I’m excited for the opportunity to serve SHECP, a consortium that includes a diverse network of institutions and partners with a rich array of organizations, in this new capacity. Its curricular and co-curricular opportunities have been transformational for a generation of students, and I look forward to collaborating with others to strengthen the connections between existing member schools, their students, staff and faculty, and our partners. I am also excited about the opportunity to recruit new member institutions to enhance SHECP and further our mission of transforming poverty studies.”

SHECP will share space with Washington and Lee’s own Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability, led by Associate Professor of Ethics and Poverty Studies Howard Pickett, ensuring close connections and collaboration with program faculty, staff and students while providing internship coordination, grant writing and communications and networking support for member schools.

“I’m thrilled that Tim will be the next executive director of the Shepherd Consortium,” said Pickett. “Collaboration with SHECP member schools and community partners has always been crucial to the success of our own Shepherd Program at W&L. The possibilities for even more collaboration between our own program and other SHECP member schools — possibilities thanks to Tim’s expertise, W&L’s support and SHECP’s many collaborators — are exciting.”

About the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty

The Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty is a consortium of colleges and universities committed to the study of poverty as a complex social problem by expanding and improving educational opportunities for college students in a wide range of disciplines and career trajectories.

SHECP member schools support undergraduates as they move toward a lifetime of professional and civic efforts to diminish poverty and enhance human capability.

For more information, visit www.shepherdconsortium.org.


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