Steven Berry, the David Swensen Professor of economics, will serve as the inaugural director of the Tobin Center for Economic Policy at Yale, the economics department announced in a press release Thursday.
In his new role, Berry will oversee the creation of the Tobin Center, a new $60 million enterprise, named after the late Yale economics professor and Nobel laureate James Tobin. The new institute was established last June, as administrators and faculty across the University looked to develop data-driven public policy research at Yale. Berry will also supervise the construction of a dedicated building for the research hub, slated for completion in 2022.
“My role at the center will be to help coordinate its overall activities, with most of the daily work carried out by faculty across the University working with the support of Tobin Center staff,” Berry said. “This year is focused on hiring appropriate staff members to aid with research and communication support and setting up policy-oriented research programs in important areas that may include health, environment, education, consumer finance and market competition.”
Berry, who joined the economics department in 1988, researches industrial organization — the empirical analysis of strategies and markets. According to Dirk Bergemann, chair of the Economics Department, Berry’s work “is some of the most cited and influential work in economics in the last two decades.”
Berry won the Frisch Medal of the Econometric Society for his research and was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014.
But Berry, who also teaches the wildly popular “Introduction to Microeconomics” lecture, has also received recognition for his teaching excellence. In 2015, he was awarded the Lex Hixon ’63 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences, and in 2018, he received the inaugural Merton J. Peck Prize for excellence in undergraduate teaching in the Department of Economics.
At the helm of the Tobin Center, Berry will be charged with hiring the center’s executive director, who will oversee the Tobin Center’s day-to-day operations, and will advise the Facult of the Arts and Sciences dean and provost in selecting the center’s advisory board, according to Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler.
Gendler added that Berry will establish post-baccalaureate and post-doctoral programs, oversee the distribution of the institute’s research support and ensure that the center has a robust program of lectures, seminars and conferences. He will also be in charge of ensuring that the center’s work is communicated to relevant policymakers, Gendler said.
Gendler told the News that the University chose Berry for his diverse and deep knowledge of different communities within Yale, including the faculty of Arts and Sciences at large, the Yale Department of Economics and other relevant professional schools.
“He had deep knowledge of all of the relevant constituencies,” she said. “In addition, he works in areas that the Tobin Center will support; he is a scholar of industrial organization, and his academic work focuses on empirical models of product differentiation. He is also a renowned teacher and mentor at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.”
Berry has served as both the chair of the Department of Economics and director of the FAS Division of Social Sciences. As a result, Bergemann said that he will be able to attract faculty from across the University’s departments to the new center.
Berry graduated from Northwestern with a degree in economics in 1980.
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