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Provost announces universitywide economics department

Provost Kent Fuchs has announced the formation of a new universitywide economics department that will bring together strengths in economics from across the university's colleges and schools into one academic unit.

The new Cornell Department of Economics combines all economics faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences and all labor economists from the ILR School. A small number of senior professors from the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and the College of Human Ecology's Department of Policy Analysis and Management (PAM) will have joint appointments.

"This is an important and exciting new development for Cornell," said Fuchs. "Combining the world-class economists from ILR and Arts and Sciences into a new economics department will bring increased opportunities for collaborative research and enhance the university's already excellent international reputation in economics."

Peter Lepage, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, noted that "greater visibility for economics at Cornell will mean we'll be better able to attract and retain top faculty and graduate students."

The decision is the result of six years of faculty involvement and recommendations, arising from numerous committees and task forces. A group of prominent alumni and economics faculty from outside the university also provided advice about how to further strengthen economics at Cornell. The transition team appointed by the provost consisted of David Easley, Scarborough Professor of Social Science and the Don Opatrny Chair of the Department of Economics; Francine Blau, Frances Perkins Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Labor Economics; Kevin Hallock, professor of labor economics and director of ILR's Institute for Compensation Studies; and Ted O'Donoghue, professor of economics.

"The College of Arts and Sciences and the ILR School have been moving towards this point for a long time," said Harry Katz, Kenneth F. Kahn Dean of the ILR School. For the past 15 years, economics courses have been cross-listed and a joint Ph.D. program offered.

Blau points out that these two units were particularly suitable for forming the core of the new department because they both have fairly sizable, free-standing groups of economists. "Other large concentrations of economists on campus are embedded in multidisciplinary units, which would have added to the complexity of bringing in their economists en masse," she explained.

The new department will be able to offer a fuller spectrum of economic perspectives, bringing the more empirical approach and policy focus of the ILR School together with the more theoretical approach of the arts college, said Katz.

"We have a lot to offer each other and a lot to learn from each other," said Hallock. "We come from a position of strength, and this new structure will make us better immediately and going forward."

The combined department will be able to offer more courses, said Easley. "We'll be able to continue providing outstanding training while improving research experiences and classroom opportunities for our students."

Princeton economist Alan Krueger '83, who served on the advisory committee, is enthusiastic about the move. "Cornell has some of the world's best economists distributed throughout the university," he said. "By incorporating some of this talent within the new economics department, Cornell will more effectively leverage its resources and strengthen its economics instruction and research."

Easley will serve as the department's first chair for the 2011-12 academic year. Hallock will serve as associate chair and take over as chair July 1, 2012. The department will report jointly to the deans of the ILR School and the College of Arts and Sciences. For now, faculty will remain in their current offices.

For a complete list of faculty in the department, see http://economics.cornell.edu

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