Gary Orfield

Professor of Education, Law, Political Science and Urban Planning
Co-Director, Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA

  • B.A. University of Minnesota, 1963
  • M.A. University of Chicago, 1965
  • Ph.D. University of Chicago, 1968

Gary Orfield is Professor of Education, Law, Political Science and Urban Planning at UCLA. He was the co-founder and director of the Civil Rights Project (, the nation’s leading research center on issues of civil rights and racial inequality, which moved from Harvard University to UCLA in 2007, and was renamed the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA. Professor Orfield's principal interest is in the development and implementation of social policy, with a focus on the impact of policy on equal opportunity for success in American society. School desegregation and the implementation of civil rights laws have been central issues throughout his career.

Recent books include, Dropouts in  America: Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis, School Resegregation: Must the South Turn Back? (with John Boger), and Higher Education and the Color Line (with Patricia Marin and Catherine Horn). In addition to his extensive scholarly work, Professor Orfield has been involved in the development of governmental policy. He has served as an expert witness in several dozen court cases related to his research, including the University of Michigan Supreme Courtcase which upheld the policy of affirmative action in 2003. He has also been called to give testimony in civil rights suits by the United States Department of Justice and many civil rights, legal services, and educational organizations.

In 1997 Professor Orfield was awarded the American Political Science Association's Charles Merriam Award for his "contribution to the art of government through the application of social science research." He was also awarded the 2007 Social Justice in Education Award by the American Educational Research Association for "work which has had a profound impact on demonstrating the critical role of education research in supporting social justice."