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

In one article for USA Today, associate professor Guian McKee of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs takes a close look at the history of U.S. hospitals as businesses, explaining some of the unique challenges this model faces in a pandemic.
Guian McKee UVA Today
The public debate over health policy must go much farther, to include the ways that we organize and finance our hospitals—and even how we think of their larger role in our economy and society.
Guian McKee USA Today
The Miller Center’s Guian McKee and Kathryn Quissell from UVA’s Department of Public Health Sciences discuss public health governance, how the U.S. healthcare system is managing the coronavirus, how the history of the system has shaped that response, and what we can learn from other countries. Miller Center Director Bill Antholis will moderate the conversation.
Guian McKee Miller Center Presents
The Miller Center's Guian McKee steps back to look at the Trump impeachment episode through the eyes of a historian.
Guian McKee FB Live
This event celebrates the launch of a National Endowment for the Humanities–funded podcast series and national public radio documentary, in oral history form, on Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society. The conversation will be recorded and edited to create the final episode in the podcast. The project will be distributed by PRX, a leading player in the rapidly expanding public media world. Through the recollections of those who were there when this history was made, the series will seek to shed light on how Lyndon Johnson was able to pass a legislative program of the magnitude of the Great Society. The venture is modeled on LBJ’s War, which told the story of Johnson's ruinous entanglement in Vietnam through the same archival materials, including the LBJ Library's oral history collection and the phone calls curated and annotated in the Miller Center's Presidential Recordings Program.
Guian McKee Miller Center Presents
"Presumably a college football crowd in Alabama is going to be a friendlier audience and an audience that’s kind of his base in that part of the country," said Guian McKee, an associate professor of presidential studies at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia. "There is a little bit of a risk here," McKee added. "It is a college town, and if he gets booed at that game it sort of deepens the problem for him."
Guian McKee The Hill