Guian McKee

Fast Facts

  • Works on the Presidential Recordings Project
  • Expertise on Health Care Policy, Medicare, Medicaid, Urban Policy, the War on Poverty, the Great Society, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy


Areas Of Expertise

  • Health
  • Law and Justice
  • Race and Racism
  • Social Issues

Guian McKee is an associate professor in Presidential Studies at the Miller Center. He received a PhD in American history at the University of California, Berkeley in May 2002, and he is the author of The Problem of Jobs: Liberalism, Race, and Deindustrialization in Philadelphia, published in November 2008 by the University of Chicago Press. At the Miller Center, McKee works extensively with the Presidential Recordings Program.

McKee’s research focuses on how federal policy, especially in the executive branch, plays out at the local level in American communities. He has written extensively about urban policy, including a book that explored the connections between local and federal economic, urban renewal, and antipoverty policies in Philadelphia between the 1950s and the 1980s. This project led to his extensive work on the Lyndon Johnson White House recordings focused on the War on Poverty, as well as on the wider development of the Great Society.

He is currently working on a book project that examines the rise of the health care economy in American cities after World War II, focusing on the development of hospitals and academic medical centers as critical but problematic urban economic anchors as well as drivers of cost in the larger health care system. This project builds on his earlier work by connecting social, political, and economic developments in specific places (Baltimore provides a core case study for the book) with larger policy choices, especially those made by presidents (drawing in particular on the Center’s presidential oral histories). His work offers an alternative narrative of health care policy history – and of health care reform – by focusing on the consequences of health care spending.

McKee has written about health care in a variety of venues, including an essay on the connections between health care employment and the upheavals in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray, as well as an op-ed on how both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton’s health care policy proposals in the 2016 Democratic primary ignored key parts of the health care cost problem. McKee’s work on health care also led to an essay on Lyndon Johnson and the passage of Medicare and Medicaid for the Miller Center’s First Year Project, for which he served as a co-editor of Volume 3 on Fiscal Policy and Volume 6 on Opportunity and Mobility.

As part of the Miller Center’s Presidential Recordings Program, McKee edited Volumes 6 and 7 of The Presidential Recordings of Lyndon B. Johnson. These volumes cover the period from mid-April to mid-June 1964, during which the Johnson administration lobbied for passage of the Civil Rights and Economic Opportunity Acts and struggled with increasing difficulties in Southeast Asia. He is also the editor of a thematic volume that includes all of Johnson’s recorded conversations about the War on Poverty. This project is currently being published digitally by the University of Virginia Press through its Rotunda electronic imprint.

He has published articles in the Journal of Urban HistoryJournal of Policy HistoryJournal of Planning History, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Community Development Investment Center, the Washington Post’s “Monkey Cage” blog, the Boston Globe, and U.S. News and World Report. In 2007, he delivered the keynote address at the conference "In the Shadow of the Great Society: American Politics, Culture and Society Since 1964," hosted by the Rothermere American Institute and the American History Research Seminar, University of Oxford, U.K. 

Guian McKee News Feed

Policies dating to the 1930s helped shape the conflict that defines today's politics.
The Washington Post
Biden and his team must focus on improving how the government actually functions if they hope to convince a skeptical public to place its trust in the progressive dream.
The Hill
Today’s urban-rural divide is decades in the making, the result of New Deal infrastructure projects, interstate highways, and government programs that attracted jobs to metro areas in the Mountain West and South, according to Guian McKee, associate professor in Presidential Studies at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.
Guian McKee Deseret News
President Biden could learn from the mistakes President Johnson made as he managed a splintered Democratic Party
As the U.S. continues to battle a second deadly Covid-19 surge, join several experts for a critical discussion about how the new Biden administration plans to adjust the country’s response, how the various vaccine development and deployment efforts are progressing, how U.S. health-care systems are managing in the current wave of infections, and whether the United States will rejoin the WHO.
Guian McKee Miller Center Presents
We are in a grim period, but if we continue to follow public health measures and increase vaccinations, the end of the pandemic is at least in sight, according to experts interviewed Friday in a webinar hosted by the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. The webinar, “The Biden Administration Inherits the COVID-19 Crisis,” focused on the challenges President Joe Biden faces and the public health measures his administration has already rolled out over the past two days. Moderator Guian McKee, an associate professor of presidential studies at the Miller Center, began with some stark graphs showing the exponential rise of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the United States around the holiday season.
Guian McKee UVA Today