Luisa Deprez Ph.D.

Professor Emerita
Portrait of Luisa Deprez

Office Location




Academic Degrees

  • B.A. in Sociology from Keuka College
  • M.S.W. in Community Organization from Rutgers University
  • Ph.D. in Social Policy from Heller School for Public Policy and Management, Brandeis University


Luisa Deprez’s commitment is to social justice, equality and equity.  For over 50 years she has devoted her work, teaching, scholarship and service to the amelioration of poverty and to the plight of low-income people in the US. With a focus on social policy, her work unearths the politics of policy-making as well as the impact of ideology, public opinion and discriminatory stereotypes on policy exposing resultant social, economic, and personal consequences. Scholarship concentrated on welfare policy focuses on both its restrictive nature and its corresponding impact and effect on recipients, most particularly low-income single-mothers pursuing post-secondary education. The power of higher education in sustaining privilege and its resultant impact on thwarting access to low-income parents emerges in these investigations. Recent writings focus on the long-standing tenuous nature of safety net programs in the US.

After a 40-year career of teaching, writing, community service, and an array of administrative positions, she retired from USM in 2015. While at USM, she served in a diverse array of roles including Director of the then-Women and Gender Studies Program, Union President, Faculty Representative to the Board of Trustees, NEASC Accreditation facilitator, and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Early in her career she was Community Organizer at the Fuld Neighborhood Center in Newark (NJ) and later a Policy Analyst for the Jersey City (NJ) Model Cities Program. In 1973 she was the Director of Children’s Mental Health for the then-Department of Mental Health and Corrections (ME) and initiated the closure of the Children’s Psychiatric Center at the then-Pineland Hospital and Training Center (formerly the Maine Center for the Feeble-Minded).

She now lends her knowledge and expertise to work with non-profit organizations, government agencies, and state legislatures while continuing to be an active contributor to state and national policy discussions and debates that focus on vulnerable populations. She currently serves as a Commissioner of the Portland (ME) Housing Authority, a member of TEMPOart Portland, the Maine Alliance for a Healthy and Prosperous Maine, and the Maine Hunger Initiative: Ending Hunger in Maine by 2030, and is as well as a college essay writing volunteer at The Telling Room.