Message from the Chair

David Blau The Department of Economics is pleased to provide news and updates on department activities in this Newsletter. This edition highlights accomplishments and research of faculty and students, and provides some useful facts and figures about the department.

For two years, the department, along with the rest of the College of Arts and Sciences, suffered a 2.5% budget cut. Last year, the college avoided a budget cut thanks to an infusion of cash from the university. The same is true this year. Once again there was no increase in tuition or state support. We hired one new faculty member, and we had two retirements and one other departure (see the news items). The department now has 27¼ full time equivalent tenure track faculty, down from a peak of 36 in 2008-09, and an average of 34 from 2003 to 2012. We have 8.5 FTE lecturers (non-tenure track faculty), down from 10 two years ago. We have no emeritus faculty teaching this year, down from five, two years ago. In the meantime, our enrollments are growing briskly. Clearly, we are trying to do more with less.
However, we remain committed to our goal of increasing the quality and reputation of the department, and the news items describe some of the indicators of success in the past year. This year we are authorized to recruit in macroeconomics, labor economics, and network economics or urban economics. Successful recruiting in these three areas will provide a significant boost to the quality and reputation of the department.

We are grateful to the State of Ohio for its generous support of Ohio State during the Great Recession, allowing us to avoid furloughs, salary cuts and freezes, and other drastic actions experienced by many public universities. However, state support is unlikely to increase in the foreseeable future, even as Ohio State is making a significant push to move into the rank of elite public universities. Department faculty have been quite successful in efforts to obtain external support through grants and contracts, and this will be increasingly important to support activities that are crucial to our goal of improving the quality and reputation of the department.

Another source of support for the department is gifts from alumni and friends. These have become quite important for activities that help the department improve: funding undergraduate scholarships and prizes, graduate research scholarships, support for graduate students to travel to conferences to present their research, and seminar series that bring scholars to campus to discuss their research. See the last page for information on how to contribute.

This year we initiated an Advisory Board for the department, with members drawn from the ranks of alumni who are interested in working with the department to boost our reputation and help our students. See the article about this exciting initiative.

I hope you enjoy reading about the interesting “big data” research of newly hired professor Mehmet Caner, the research of PhD student Joe Staudt (who is on the job market this year) on the economics of scientific innovation, and the research of undergraduates John Conlon and Nima Dahir. The newsletter also describes the many honors and awards received by faculty and students, as well as metrics of department success. Drop by Arps Hall and say hello if you are in the vicinity.