Laura K. Olson

Ph. D. University of Colorado, 1974


Public policy, American presidency, and politics of women


Laura Katz Olson joined the Department of Political Science at Lehigh in 1974 and served as the department chair on several occasions. Olson grew up in the Bronx, New York, and received her undergraduate education at the City College of New York (CCNY). After traveling throughout Western Europe and South America for two years, she entered the doctoral program in political science at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where her received her Ph.D. in 1974.

She has published eight books, the most recent of which is: The Politics of Medicaid (Columbia University Press, 2010). Her other books include: The Political Economy of Aging: The State, Private Power and Social Welfare; Aging and Public Policy: The Politics of Growing Old in America; The Graying of the World: Who Will Take Care of the Frail Elderly; Age Through Ethnic Lenses: Caring for the Elderly in a Multicultural Society; The Not So Golden Year: Caregiving, the Frail Elderly and the Long-Term Care Establishment; The Handbook of Long-Term Care Administration and Policy; andHeart Sounds (her first novel).

She has published widely in the field of aging, health care and women’s studies, her articles addressing such topics as Medicaid, Medicare, long-term care of the elderly, pensions, Social Security and problems experienced by older women,. She has been a Scholar at the Social Security Administration, a Gerontological Fellow, and a Fulbright Scholar. She also has lectured throughout Pennsylvania on Social Security, Medicare and Long-term Care policies, funded by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. Olson is on the editorial board of the Journal of Aging Studies and New Political Science.

Olson teaches “U.S. Health Care Policies,” “The American Presidency,” “Presidential Wives and the Politics of Their Times” and “Introduction to American Government.” She directs the political science department’s internship program and has served as director of its graduate program.

She also enjoys running, bicycling, backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, playing the guitar, gardening and knitting.

Olson has one daughter, Alix, who is a performance poet and graduate student in political science. She lives with her husband, George, a blue grass musician and luthier.

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