Events in Economics

Dr. Shomu Banerjee, senior lecturer in economics and one of the first faculty members to speak to the media about the cuts, will be delivering a lecture on the topic next Monday:


The talk will be at 5:30 p.m. in room 334 of the Goizueta Business School. Further, he encourages all students and alumni to write to the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Ben Johnson, before the next meeting on November 9. (Keep that date open, by the way.) The address:

Mr. Ben F. Johnson III
Chair, Emory Board of Trustees
Emory University
Mailstop #1000/001/1AN
Atlanta, GA 30322
Fax: 404.727.7359

Dr. Banerjee has published an open letter on the “Save Econ, Save Emory” Facebook page, which you can read here after the break:

Dear Student,

I have never really asked anything of you in the past, other than perhaps your attention in class! But now I need your active support and help to secure the future of the undergraduate Economics program at Emory. Here is why you need to care regardless of your major.

Dean Robin Forman has suspended the PhD program in Economics indefinitely. Consequently, several of our best research faculty have already received offers to move elsewhere. We are likely to lose around 4 faculty this year and as many as 6 the following year, halving our overall faculty to around 11. High quality replacement faculty is impossible to attract without a PhD program. With a depleted roster, we cannot serve the 700+ Economics majors adequately or have an honors program. The PhD program is like a water source: turning it off means that the whole ecology that supports the Economics undergraduate endeavor is in jeopardy.

Because Economics is the second-largest major in Emory College, anything that adversely affects us will impact the quality and reputation of our liberal arts curriculum. Already several freshmen interested in pursuing Economics have sought my advice about transferring. Coming on top of the recent embarrassment regarding SAT scores, as well as the cancellation of departments and programs from Visual Arts, Educational Studies, and Journalism to cuts in the Institute of Liberal Arts and Spanish PhD programs, I believe this will cause our national ranking to slip from 20. This affects everyone — alumni and current students — as the value of your Emory degree diminishes. And this is the reason why everybody needs to care. You don’t have to take my word for it; Paul Rubin, the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Economics, said much the same thing in his article that appeared in The Wheel on October 2nd (see http://www.emorywheel.com/regarding-econ-ph-d/).

Dean Forman’s motivation in suspending the PhD program was ostensibly to make it easier for the faculty to pay more attention to the surging undergraduate program because he had been unwilling to expand our faculty. He took this decision without consulting our chair or our faculty. Since then, he has not been able to articulate a coherent vision for the future, except that he wants “eminence” for the department in one or two areas, attained presumably through high-profile hires. But attracting eminent faculty without a graduate program will be impossible, so we need an immediate reversal of the suspension.

I believe we can get a reversal of this misguided decision by putting pressure on the Board of Trustees who are most sensitive to alumni relations and anything that could affect our national ranking. But we need to act fast! I have already sent a petition with over 1500 signatures to Mr. Ben F. Johnson III, who is the Chair of the Emory Board of Trustees. Here is how you can make a difference:

(1) If you are current undergraduate, forward this email to your parent or guardian and make sure they send a snail mail letter or fax to Mr. Johnson–no voice messages or emails please!! Have them print out the attached PDF, hand-write a short note, and mail to the address or fax it to the number at the top of the page. Remember: the goal is to deluge the Board of Trustees with volume in the next 3 weeks, by November 9! If you’ve graduated, please write a letter or send a fax to Mr. Johnson.

(2) Forward this email to all of your friends and alumni and talk to them — too many simply don’t understand why they should care or what they can do.

More details can be found on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/481397321892932/ and https://facebook.com/SaveEconSaveEmory). If you need more information or wish to have me speak to a group of students, please contact me at sbaner3@emory.edu, I’ll be happy to get back to you. Thank you for your support!

Best,

Shomu Banerjee

Senior Lecturer

Department of Economics

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