Letter from the Chair

By Ed Foster

Ed Foster
Last year, a small group of alumni and friends of the department agreed to serve as an advisory committee. One of their first pieces of advice was to tell me that we need to keep in touch with our alumni, and do a better job of letting people know that the economics department is one of the University’s hidden gems.

We have known for years that we should reach out to let our alumni know how and what the economics department is doing. We are proud of our accomplishments. But the supply of time and money always fell short of demand, and so for years those precious resources went to other priorities. Now, though, encouraged by our advisory committee, we offer the first issue of Minnesota Economics.

Consider this to be the first step in a process of letting you know how the department is doing. After all, the department’s success reflects favorably on its graduates, just as our graduates’ successes reflect favorably on the department.

The magazine introduces you to successes of some of our faculty, students, and alumni. To be sure, there’s been one major glitch: long-time faculty member Ed Prescott was awarded the Nobel Prize (for work that he did at Minnesota) only after he moved to Arizona State University in 2003. But I’d like to mention some other successes here:

• A major faculty recruiting coup: 3 years after Narayana Kocherlakota, then holder of our Carlson Chair in Economics, was lured away by Stanford, he called to say that he would like to return. He has now done so, effective fall 2005!

• A wonderful vote of confidence: alumnus and advisory committee member Bert Gross (B.A. ’50, economics) and his wife, Susan Hill Gross (B.A. ’56, interdepartmental), recently gave a $1 million gift to the U, designating $500,000 for economics graduate fellowships! (Because of a farsighted commitment by the University, payouts from their fellowship endowment will be matched by the Graduate School’s 21st Century Fund, effectively doubling the impact of their gift).

• Further votes of confidence: Many other alumni, faculty, and friends of the department have provided further support for scholarships and fellowships, and I am deeply grateful to each of them for their generosity to the department.

Depending on whom you ask, Minnesota has been ranked in either the top ten economics departments in the country (National Research Council) or top fifteen (U. S. News) since the NRC ratings were first done in 1966. Most of our competitors are private universities with deep pockets: Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Chicago. In addition to Minnesota, only a couple of public universities—Berkeley and Michigan, in the NRC studies—are consistently among these leading departments. We intend to stay in that distinguished company.

Before I sign off, I want to offer warm thanks to the alumni and friends who agreed to serve on our advisory committee. We are grateful for their willingness to help and for the support they have individually and collectively provided for our department.

Warm thanks to you, too, for your interest.

If you have any comments about Minnesota Economics or the department, or news to share, please give me a call (612-624-6567) or send me an e-mail (foster@econ.umn.edu).

Ed Foster,
professor and chair

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This page contains a single entry by cla published on June 24, 2008 7:13 PM.

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