Four months ago, the University announced the creation of the Tobin Center for Economic Policy — a new $60 million enterprise intended to advance economic research at Yale. Now, University administrators are discussing logistics for the future center.
The center, named after the late Yale economics professor and Nobel laureate James Tobin, will support “rigorous, evidence-based research intended to define and inform policy debate,” according to a June press release. The Tobin Center is backed by an anonymous lead gift of $30 million and other smaller gifts, which will fund the center’s activities and the construction of a dedicated building, slated for completion in 2022. The center’s founding comes in the midst of a push to enhance data-driven research across the University.
“The Tobin Center will build on the strengths of the economics department,” professor of economics Steven Berry told the News. “It will improve the study of economics at Yale as well as hopefully improve policy discussion across the nation.”
The center will be modeled after the University’s two existing economic research centers, the Cowles Foundation, which studies the mathematical underpinnings of economic theory, and the Economic Growth Center, which focuses on international development.
According to Dirk Bergemann, chair of the economics department, the Tobin Center will be more outward-looking than its two counterparts, “connecting researchers and policymakers.” Bergemann said that the center will facilitate collaboration between researchers and policymakers to solve pressing domestic issues. He added that the department is planning to host lectures and workshops as part of the Center’s programming.
“The center will be the third leg of a stool in supporting a full range of research activity in the economics department,” Berry said.
Bergemann said that in the next couple of weeks, the University will announce the members of the faculty planning committee charged with determining the structure and “programmatic emphasis” of the center.
According to Berry, who said he took part in the “wide-ranging discussions” on whom to appoint as the Center’s inaugural director, the Provost’s Office is slated to announce the director’s name on Thursday. Berry added that the director is a current member of the University’s economics faculty.
Provost Ben Polak did not respond to requests for comment.
Bergemann said that the University will soon conclude the architect selection process for the new building, which began over the summer.
“Because the Tobin Center will support research that makes use of heavy empirical analysis and big data sets, the new building will have a more lab-like atmosphere than the other existing centers, which consist mostly of faculty offices,” Bergemann said.
The Tobin Center will be located close to the department of economics, housed on Hillhouse Avenue.
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