Higgins Labor Program History

The Higgins Labor Program was established in 1993 as the Higgins Labor Research Center (HLRC) under the direction of founder Chuck Craypo (1936-2009), Professor of Economics. Building on the Catholic Social Tradition’s deep commitments to the dignity of labor and the rights of workers, the HLRC beckoned engaged faculty, staff, and students to carry on the legacy of “labor priests” such as Monsignor John Ryan (1869-1945).

The HLRC took its name from another noted labor priest, Monsignor George Higgins (1916-1922): labor economist and writer; fierce promoter of unions and workers’ rights; longtime advisor to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on questions of social justice; and worthy recipient of both the US Presidential Medal of Freedom (the nation’s highest civilian honor) and Notre Dame’s prestigious Laetare Medal (for exemplary public service by a Catholic).

Craypo was succeeded as director by fellow labor economist, professor of economics, and noted retirement expert Teresa Ghilarducci, who ran the HLRC from 1997-2007 before becoming professor and Director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at The New School.

In 2001, Rev. Mark Fitzgerald, CSC, a professor of labor economics and organizer of the Union-Management Conference (UMC) held annually at Notre Dame for almost fifty years, entrusted his legacy of promoting the dignity of workers to the HLRC.

In 2008, the HLRC was renamed the Higgins Labor Studies Program (HLSP), an interdisciplinary unit of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns dedicated to fostering research, teaching, and programming on labor issues. Marty Wolfson, Associate Professor of Economics, served as director of the HLSP from 2008 until his retirement in 2014. During Wolfson’s tenure, labor historian and history faculty member Dan Graff served as Associate Director.

In 2014, Dan Graff, Professor of the Practice in the Department of History, was named director, and in 2015 he renamed the unit the Higgins Labor Program (HLP) in order to convey the breadth of research, teaching, and community engagement efforts both currently underway and envisioned for the future.

Today the Higgins Labor Program proudly carries on the tradition of both labor priests and labor scholars.

Have a question or a comment about the history of the Higgins Labor Program? Leave a comment via email at dgraff@nd.edu.