Economics
 

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

One Hundred Years of Economics at Carolina

Historical Sign

Looking back on 100 years of economics at UNC, the Department can reflect on many vicissitudes and accomplishments. We can salute the wisdom and foresight of President Venable's decision to appoint Charles Lee Raper in 1901, at a time when the University had only 64 faculty members and 575 students, to provide for the teaching of a discipline intimately linked to the growing industrialization of the state of North Carolina. We can applaud the performance of Professor Raper in making the new field a vital part of the University, his deanship of the Graduate School, and the awarding of 30 masters' degrees in economics under his tutelage.

Certainly the expansion and strengthening of the economics faculty under the deanship of Dudley Dewitt Carroll from 1920-50 was critical to eventually establishing a strong economics department. Indeed, the Credo of the School of Commerce bears repeating: "...eliminating waste, releasing new energies, and organizing more effectively in our economic life, will reduce the burden of humanity, raise the standards of well-being, lay the basis for finer and more abounding cultural agencies, and bring the race within reach of enlarged and enriched opportunity." The important role of the department within the school is reflected in Carroll's words, again worth repeating, "a well-manned department of economics is an absolute sine qua non for a school of, commerce." During the next twenty years, Carroll was as good as his word in his building of the Department. The names of Woosley, Murchison, Zimmermann, Spruill, Heath, Heer, Wolf, Cowden, Schwenning, and Bernstein liberally sprinkle the pages of this history with their accomplishments, including among their number world-renowned experts on natural resources, taxation, monetary economics, and arbitration, as well as dean of the General College and dean of the faculty, two presidents of the Southern Economics Association, and the twenty-seven year editor of the Southern Economic Journal. Four were named to prestigious Kenan professorships: Zimmermann (1934), Woosley (1941), Heer (1945), and Dean Carroll (1955). In 1961, Corydon Spruill was named alumni distinguished professor in recognition of his contributions to the University. In the sixteen years between 1927 and the serious onset of World War II in 1942, twenty-seven Ph.D. degrees in economics were awarded. Undergraduate enrollments climbed as well. When 15 of the 28 faculty went into government or military service during the war, heavy burdens remained with those who stayed in Chapel Hill.

Old Campus View

After the war, growth resumed under the leadership of John Woosley as chairman, from 1946 to 1950. The department and the renamed School of Business Administration moved into the new Carroll-Hanes-Gardner quadrangle in 1953. Following the retirement in 1950 of Dudley Carroll as dean, Thomas H. Carroll was appointed dean of the School of Business Administration. As this history makes clear, this was a time of testing for the department. Dean Carroll introduced the M.B.A. degree and sought a four-year undergraduate business degree, bypassing the General College. He also began to exercise strong control over budgetary and personnel decisions in the department. These moves were successfully resisted by the department and the College of Arts and Sciences, under the leadership of Corydon Spruill, dean of the General College and later dean of the faculty. During this period the number of undergraduate majors fell from 175 in 1947 to only 38 in 1953.

Carolina Football Team

Following the departure of Dean Thomas Carroll, economist Maurice Lee became the Dean of the School of Business Administration in 1956. The postwar generation of faculty now had the opportunity to build up the department. Among this group were Paul Guthrie, Ralph Pfouts, James Ingram, Clarence Philbrook, Olin Mouzon, J.C.D. Blaine, Rashi Fein, William Parker, James Blackman, and David Lapkin. New faculty recruited during the 1960s included Arthur Benavie, Robert Gallman, Henry Latané, David McFarland, James Murphy, Vincent Tarascio, Roger Waud, Dennis Appleyard, Alfred Field, Thomas Orsagh and James Wilde. One outstanding economist who had a strong association with the Department even though his appointment was elsewhere, was Kenan Professor Harold Hotelling, named the first distinguished fellow of the American Economic Association in 1965. Prof. Hotelling was a faculty member of the Department of Statistics from 1946 until his retirement in 1965.

This generation soon made its mark, both within the University and in the profession. Among them are included four presidents of the Southern Economic Association (Pfouts, Ingram, Blackman, and Gallman), a dean of the Graduate School (Ingram), and numerous distinguished scholars. Clifford Kreps was named as Wachovia Professor of Banking in 1955, Latané as Meade Willis Professor in 1969, Dean Lee as Cary Boshamer Professor in 1976, and Robert Gallman as Kenan Professor in 1980. After a drought of only seven Ph.D. recipients produced from 1943 to 1950, came a flood of 31 from 1951-60 and 58 from 1961-70. Undergraduate majors also increased from 65 in 1960 to 111 in 1972.

The Old Well

The 1970s brought new growth and new faculty, as the University expanded from 8,000 to 22,000 students, and it also brought controversy to the Department. There were deep divisions over the Chancellor's decision to remove the Department from the School of Business Administration, of which it had been the core founding component. Nevertheless, the move was made in 1974. The gain in budgetary independence came at the expense of the loss of financial support from the Business Foundation, worth $11 million in 1990, and the loss of vital contact with the business community of the state of North Carolina through the School of Business Administration. As chairman from 1968 to 1975, David McFarland led the department through this valley of difficulties. Current faculty joining the Department during this time included John Akin, Richard Froyen, Steven Rosefielde and Boone Turchi.

Beginning in 1975 , in a new location in Gardner Hall and under a new chairman, James Murphy, the department embarked upon its new relationship with the College of Arts and Sciences. During the decade 1975-85, the number of undergraduate majors rose from 130 to 436, while the number of graduate students and faculty remained virtually unchanged. New faculty added during this period included John Stewart, Michael Salemi, David Guilkey, Helen Tauchen, Rachel Willis, Patrick Conway, David Blau, William Darity, Jr., Stanley Black as Georges Lurcy Professor, and James Friedman as Kenan Professor. From 1971 to 1980, the number of Ph.D. degrees granted rose to 104.

Stone marker

During 1985-90, the Department continued to grow under the chairmanship of Stanley Black as the number of undergraduate majors grew to over 600, the number of graduate students in residence to over 90 and the number of faculty reached 35. New hires who are currently on the faculty include Gary Biglaiser, Thomas Mroz, William Parke and Paul Rhode. Michael Salemi was named Bowman and Gordon Gray Professor for 1987-90. In addition, a series of Public Policy Conferences was established in 1988, a rotating series of Southeast Economic Theory and International Economics Conferences began in 1989 and numerous other conferences were held on campus, including the NSF Conference on Nonparametric Models of Efficiency in 1988. Eighty-seven Ph.D. degrees were granted from 1981-1990.

Professor Robert Gallman took on the Chairmanship of the Department in 1990 and it continued to be an important component of the College of Arts and Sciences. An endowed chair in the name of Henry Latane was filled by Ronald A. Gallant, a distinguished eonometrician, and William A. Darity was awarded a Cary Boshamer endowed chair. New hires who are currently on the faculty include Claudio Mezzetti, Donna Gilleskie and Koleman Strumpf. Prof. James Murphy continued in University administration and became Dean of the Summer School, a role in which he continues. During this period a new Department computer network was installed in Gardner Hall and linked to the University system. David Guilkey succeeded Gallman as Department Chair in July 1995, serving for the final five year period of this century. During that time a number of faculty offices and all Gardner Hall classrooms were renovated. The classrooms were modernized through incorporation of audio, visual and computer-enhanced technology, lighting and wiring, making them some of the most advanced on campus. New assistant professors hired during this period included Alexander Kovalenkov, Evan Anderson and Xiaodong Wu. Also joining the Department were H. W ilbert Van der Klaauw as an Associate Professor, and Eric Gysels as the Bernstein Distinguished Chair in Economics. Rebounding from a decline in the early 1990s, the number of undergraduate economics majors steadily increased during this time. Ninety-seven Ph.D. degrees were granted during the 1990-2000 period and, in addition, faculty research grants reached an all-time high.

At the threshold of the twenty-first century the Department of Economics is an active, vital, thriving Department in the College of Arts and Sciences. Its undergraduate major enrollment, currently over 600, ranks among the largest in the college, as does its graduate enrollment. The faculty participates actively in campus and professional life, publishing some 70 or more scholarly pieces per year, participating in numerous academic conferences around the globe, and regularly winning teaching prizes on campus. Last year faculty members served as principal investigators on multi-year research grants which were awarded well over fifty million dollars. It must be noted that the work of the Department has been enhanced in recent years by the generosity of our alumni and friends. Major endowment funds provided by the Corydon Spruill Estate, Herbert Mayo, the family of Henry Latane, Ralph C. Hahn, Alan T. Dickson, John and Elizabeth Ryan, the Elizabeth and Harry Brainard Estate, Joseph Crews, The Georges Lurcy Foundation and the Edward M. Bernstein Family, and the generous annual contributions of many of our alumni have been of great importance to the Department. These monies not only support important endowed professorships, but also supplement our University budget and enable the Department to acquire new technological tools for both teaching and research, carry out more effective faculty recruiting, support faculty attendance at professional meetings, support undergraduate research and provide the flexibility to provide an outstanding learning environment for both our undergraduate majors and graduate students. As John Akin begins the second year of his chairmanship and we move forward into at the beginning of our second 100 years, the Department of Economics is well grounded to expand upon our past accomplishments and our service to the University and the State. It will meet the many new challenges of this century from a position of confidence and academic strength, supported by its faculty, students, alumni, and the people of North Carolina.

Old East Marker


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*This history is largely based on Chapter 8, "Retrospect and Prospect," History of the Department of Economics, Universityof North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1901-1990, Carolina Academic Press, Durham, N.C., 1991.