The Batten School Welcomes Four New Professors for the 2019-20 Academic Year

The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy welcomed four new professors to its distinguished faculty for the 2019-20 academic year. The Batten School considers not only academic rigor, but also real-world experience, political impact, teaching, and mentoring when recruiting faculty members. Currently, the School’s faculty includes more than 60 interdisciplinary scholars and continues to grow. As award-winning scholars and professors of leadership, they are shaping the future, and their areas of focus reflect the drive and research of the sharpest minds in public policy and leadership today.

“We are delighted to welcome four new full-time faculty members to the Batten School,” said Jay Shimshack, an associate professor of public policy and economics and the school's associate dean of academic affairs. “All four will help us train effective and ethical leaders and generate and disseminate frontier knowledge on the most important policy problems. This is a great group: A first-rate instructor of economics and research methods for public policy interested in firm and individual behavior. A celebrated leadership professor focused on personal resilience and organizational well-being. A top-notch teacher-scholar analyzing political participation, inequality, and representation. An award-winning scholar passionate about teaching policy making and global governance. The Batten School and our students are lucky to have them.”

Mishal Ahmed joins the Batten School as an assistant professor of public policy. Before joining the Batten School, Ahmed completed his Ph.D. in economics from Georgia Institute of Technology, where he also taught courses on economics. Previous appointments include a two-year stint teaching economics in Saudi Arabia. This fall, he will teach a new Batten course: LPPP 7559-002: Behavioral Economics and Public Policy. “While traditional economic analysis remains vital for public policy, the emerging body of work showing deviations from ‘rational’ behavior by decision-makers in a variety of contexts provide policy-makers new tools to address important policy issues such as saving for retirement and eating healthy,” said Ahmed. “Opportunities to resolve problems like these are plenty and I am excited to share this body of knowledge with my students.”

Ahmed’s current research examines the impact of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft on the quality of taxi services. Other areas of interest include the implications of price-match guarantees and the interactions between multi-sided platforms and agents.

Tim L Davis joins the Batten School as an associate professor of public policy. A trained clinical psychologist, Davis is a familiar face on Grounds, having joined the University faculty community six years ago following his appointment at the University of Michigan. Before joining Batten, Davis served as the Executive Director for Student Resilience and Leadership Development in Student Affairs. Before his career in higher education, Davis had a corporate marketing career at Procter & Gamble, which he left to study what helps leaders and teams thrive. “My whole career has been a dual path of leadership and clinical psychology,” said Davis. “Coming to Batten is an opportunity to bring those two paths together in a meaningful way. As someone who studies what influences people’s behavior and then to have the opportunity to teach that to young people, is a coming together of my background in corporate America, clinical psychology, and passion for leadership and I could not be more thrilled.”

Davis will teach two courses this fall: “values-based leadership” for MPP students and “the resilient student: transition thriving and leadership” for undergraduates. In the spring semester, Davis will teach another section of the resilient student and his other signature course, “Resilient Leadership for Teams and Teammates.”

John Holbein joins the Batten School as an assistant professor of public policy. Prior to joining Batten, he taught political science at Brigham Young University. Drawn to Batten’s inter-disciplinary approach to both public policy and leadership, Holbein said, “We learn so much more when we combine all of the knowledge that we have from all of the social sciences. Batten’s approach of bringing people together from various fields and specialties and their focus on developing students’ leadership abilities clearly stands out.”

Holbein’s areas of interest include political participation, political inequality, political representation, and education policy. His forthcoming book, “Making Young Voters: Converting Civic Attitudes into Civic Action,” examines how to increase low voter participation amongst American youth. This fall, He will teach two sections of the course Politics of Public Policy to MPP students.

Peter Johannessen joins the Batten School this fall as an assistant professor of public policy. “I’m primarily a political scientist by training, but my work seeks to address policy problems and is in dialogue with other social science disciplines, so an interdisciplinary public policy school seemed like a natural fit,” said Johannessen. “I was impressed by the Batten School’s commitment to excellence in both teaching and research, as well as the school’s strong sense of community among faculty, staff, and students. During my visits, I was struck by everyone’s enthusiasm for the school – and their dedication to making it even better.”

Johannessen was previously a democracy fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School and a visiting fellow at the Kellogg Institute at Notre Dame. He earned his Ph.D. in politics and social policy from Princeton University, where he also served as a Quin Morton Predoctoral Teaching Fellow. His research explores how citizens shape local policy-making processes. Current projects focus on local democratic representation and the design of participatory governance institutions in Brazil. This fall, Johannessen will teach Introduction to Public Policy and Comparative Policy History in Batten’s Bachelor of Arts curriculum.


About the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy: The University of Virginia Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy is authoring a new model of public policy education. Of the 250-plus schools of public policy and administration in the U.S., the Batten School has the distinction of being the only one explicitly committed to teaching leadership—how it works, why context matters in decision-making and which actions lead to tangible results. The School’s programs inspire students to act vigorously, effectively and ethically on behalf of the common good. Learn more at

Related Content

John Holbein

Garrett Hall at Sunset

Stay Up To Date with the Latest Batten News and Events