Chair’s Corner

Chair’s Corner

[Photo: Valerie Ramey]

Welcome to this edition of Economics in Action. This is my first time writing to you, as I recently took over as department chair. Our former chair, Julian Betts, did a great job steering the department through a rather difficult three years of budget cuts. Among the many accomplishments during his tenure were the creation of the Economics Leadership Council and the retention of all but one of the numerous faculty members who received attractive offers from other universities. We all owe Julian Betts a hearty thank-you for his three years of outstanding service as chair of the department.


We congratulate James Andreoni and Joel Watson, who were just elected Fellows of the Econometric Society. Also, congratulations go to Karthik Muralidharan, who was awarded CESifo’s Distinguished Affiliate Award. This prize is for the best Economics of Education paper presented by someone 35 or under at the CESifo Annual Area Conferences. We also congratulate Julian Betts, who was made a Bren Fellow of the Public Policy Institute of California for 2011-12.

Our faculty members continue to be quoted in the news. Among those cited during the last several months were Julian Betts on math test scores, James Hamilton on oil prices and the federal debt ceiling, Valerie Ramey on government spending multipliers and time use of parents, Roger Gordon on the jobs bill, Julie Cullen on the effects of government budget cuts on education, and Mark Jacobsen on fuel efficiency regulations.

Several awards were announced at this fall’s department welcome party. The awards for Best Undergraduate Teaching were given to Melissa Famulari (faculty), Maria Candido (lecturer), Laura Gee (associate instructor) and Troy Kravitz (summer instructor). The awards for Best Graduate Teaching in the Core Courses went to James Hamilton and Giacomo Rondina, and the awards for Best Graduate Teaching in an Elective went to S. Nageeb Ali and Yixiao Sun, with an honorable mention to Julie Cullen. The Teaching Assistance Excellence award was given to Andrew Chamberlain, Matthew Goldman, Charles Lin, Matthew Niedzwiecki, Lawrence Schmidt and Fan (Dora) Xia. In the area of research, the Walter Heller Memorial Prize for Best Third-Year Paper went to Samuel Bazzi, with Kelly Paulson as the runner-up. The Clive Granger Research Fellowship was awarded to Samuel Bazzi, Aislinn Bohren, Kristy Buzard, Soojin Jo, Antung Liu and Matthew Niedzwiecki. We congratulate all of these winners.

Undergraduate Program

Our undergraduate student majors have stabilized at around 2,400. With assistance from our Economics Leadership Council, we have started a new program to help our most promising undergraduates compete for the top internships. To read more about this program, see the article in the newsletter on the Rising Leaders Internship Program.

Graduate Program

This year we had the largest entering class in our history with 30 new doctoral students. One of the students, Florian Blume, is the son of Andreas Blume, an economics professor at the University of Pittsburgh who earned his Ph.D. in our department in 1989. Another entering student, Leland Farmer, is the son of Roger Farmer, who is an economics professor at UCLA. We are delighted to welcome a second generation of economists to our department.


Formed only last January, the Economics Leadership Council has already grown to 14 members. This group of business leaders (most of whom are alumni) not only makes generous financial donations to the department, but also serve as mentors to our students and advise us on how to form important ties to business and the community in general.

Marjorie Flavin is the new director of the Economics Roundtable speaker series. In October, Carmen Reinhart, the co-author of the book This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, presented at our October Roundtable. She spoke about the ramifications of the recent financial crisis. Marjorie is already putting together a great lineup of speakers for next year. We look forward to talks from Marc Doss in February and Darrell Duffie in April. Keep checking the Economics Roundtable Web page for updates on our entire speaker series for 2012.

In times like these, the department is especially appreciative of donations that friends and alumni have made. We have used some of these funds to create endowed chairs, to support our various seminar series, to subsidize several undergraduate organizations (although we would like to be able to do much more here) and to subsidize graduate student summer fellowships. Generous donations have also enabled us to provide assistance for our most promising students in the advanced stages of their thesis, through fellowships named after Clive Granger and supported in part by Patricia Granger. Please contact Doug Kurtz at or me at if you would like to learn more about giving back possibilities.

[Signature: Valrie Ramey]
Valerie Ramey, Chair