Daniel Zhao

Looking to fill academic demand, the economics department hired six new faculty members this year — the largest number of new hires out of any single department in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

The University employed 44 new faculty members this year — including 12 hires in the humanities, 14 in the social sciences and 18 in STEM. The number of incoming faculty members aligns with those of years past, with the University adding 46 new hires last year and 42 in the 2017–2018 academic year. The sustained high number of economics hires reflects a growing emphasis on the field exemplified by student interest in economics — the largest undergraduate major for the class of 2019 — and the new Tobin Center for Economic Policy, slated for completion in 2022. Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler said the large number of arrivals was partly a result of new slots opening up due to retirements and departures as well as hires from the 2017-2018 academic year deferring their arrival until this cycle.

“Economics is a department that offers excellent teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and its faculty do important research aligned with the university priorities, so some of the growth can be traced to these factors,” Gendler said.

For the last several years, the University has achieved near gender equity in its hires, with 65 men and 67 women/non-binary faculty members entering the University since the fall of 2017, according to Gendler; 21 men and 21 women/non-binary faculty members entered Yale in the 2017–2018 academic year, 21 men and 25 women in 2018–2019 and 23 men and 21 women this year. The number of new STEM hires mirrors last year’s trends, aligning with the University’s commitment to the discipline as outlined in the University Science Strategies Committee’s report. Released in the summer of 2018, that report calls for increased investment in STEM research among other developments, and this year’s hires — including four in computer science and three in mathematics — will contribute to these aims, Gendler said.

The USSC report did not place emphasis on the need to develop economics specifically, but it referenced the department frequently as a site for interdisciplinary study of data science and the field’s policy impact. Still, the economics department has been a focus of University investment in recent years. The Tobin Center for Economic Policy — a $60 million enterprise set to advance economic research — will provide an upgraded space for the department. Additionally, this year, the University announced a joint computer science and economics major, reflecting its commitment to data research.

Economics department chair Tony Smith said the new hires study a variety of topics — ranging from industrial management to international development. He added that of the senior faculty members hired by this department this year, two are women.

“That’s pretty close to half, and that’s a success story in my opinion,” Smith said. He added that the department is aware of and concerned about gender issues within the economics discipline nationwide, but he believes Yale maintains “a very healthy climate.”

The recruitment process for new faculty can be competitive for the FAS and the first weeks can be daunting for incoming faculty members. Professor Orazio Attanasio, who joined the Economics faculty this year, said his time at Yale so far have been relatively positive, but he has had to adjust. Attanasio left a position at the University College London after more than two decades of employment there. He said he had received competitive employment offers before, but none had caught his eye until Yale reached out to him a few years ago.

Leaving a large urban center like London for the more modest New Haven proved a difficult choice for Attanasio.

“That was a bit of an issue, especially since I was living in London, which is very exciting,” Attanasio said.

Still, Attanasio said that Yale’s competitive salary as well as the opportunity to study education improvement in developing countries through the University inspired him to apply for and ultimately accept the position.

Last academic year, the University brought in 46 new faculty members.

Carly Wanna | carly.wanna@yale.edu