Faculty & Staff Achievements

Plum Role for Alum in U.S. Higher Education

by Edward Carpenter

Robert Shireman, MA ’86 has been appointed deputy undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education.

New deputy undersecretary of education is Robert Shireman '86.

Shireman’s appointment comes on the heels of another University of San Francisco alum, Martha Kanter, EdD ’89, being nominated by President Barack Obama as undersecretary of education in early April. Shireman’s appointment, unlike Kanter’s nomination, does not require approval by the Senate.

Shireman attended evening classes at USF's Sacramento campus while working full-time, ultimately earning a master’s degree in public administration from the College of Professional Studies. He is the founder of the Institute for College Access and Success and the Project on Student Debt.

He chose USF because he was able to focus his public administration education in the area of nonprofit management, Shireman said.

“President Obama has laid out one of the most ambitious higher education agendas in generations,” Shireman said. “I bring the detailed knowledge and experience to bring those ideas to fruition.”

A leading expert on college access and financial aid who served as a congressional appointee to the Federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, as an education policy adviser in the Clinton Administration, and as a U.S. Senate aide on education, Shireman has been instrumental in leading student loan reforms, including the implementation of the federal higher education tax credit.

He will work under Kanter to set the goals and establish policy for higher education, including the office of postsecondary education and student aid. Shireman was a key adviser to Obama’s transition team and then served as an interim consultant and senior adviser under the new administration, until his appointment.

Shireman earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and also holds a master’s degree from Harvard in education.