A Note from the Chair

A Note from the Chair Image

Dear Friends:

Welcome to Spring! I’m from Minnesota, so unlike so many of my colleagues who hail from more Southern climes, this cold, damp and snowy March is nevertheless a true Spring to me. In fact, it’s even a nice one!

As many of you know, we were deeply saddened by the passing this past January of Nobel Laureate and Emeritus Professor James Buchanan. An extraordinary scholar, Professor Buchanan was the founder of the Virginia School of Political Economy and a leading force behind the modern theory of Public Choice. He was Mason’s first Nobel and, as stated by Mason’s President Angel Cabrera, “Professor Buchanan was transformational, not only for our Department of Economics, but for putting our young university on the national and international map.” Indeed, it was Buchanan’s Center for the Study of Public Choice, currently directed by Alex Tabarrok, which formed the foundation upon which our economics department – and in many ways university – was built. We owe Jim a great debt.

I had the great pleasure of interacting with Jim regularly, if not frequently, during the past decade. As all of us who knew him understood, he was not only a scholar but also, and always, a consummate gentleman. He will be deeply missed, and his inspirational scholarship will remain a primary influence on the academic direction of our department. A public memorial for Professor Buchanan will be held at Mason on September 29, 2013. All are welcomed to participate in this remembrance. Jim was extremely proud of our department and all it has become, and we continue to grow and develop in very positive directions.

I am delighted to report that Dr. Johanna Mollerstrom, a recent Harvard PhD, will be joining our department. Dr. Mollerstrom specializes in behavioral and experimental economics, and will be a valuable contribution to the faculty of ICES, the center in Arlington that houses our experimental economics faculty.  

There is more good news. I am delighted to announce that Arlington’s Mason campus now hosts The Fund for American Studies (TFAS). Founded in 1967, TFAS organizes programs for college and university students from the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America who are on paths toward leadership in public policy, journalism, international affairs, business, government and related fields. TFAS’ goal is to prepare these young people to serve as honorable leaders by educating them in the ideas most conducive to individual freedom, human achievement and personal responsibility. Clearly, they are a great match for Mason! We are very pleased to welcome to Mason Mr. Mark Pfundstein, who has joined us as Manager of TFAS programs.  

Even more good news, especially for our PhD students, is that we had another strong year of placements. For example, our students have been offered academic positions at institutions including Brown University, Weber State University and Purchase College (SUNY), among others, and one of our students has received an offer from JP Morgan Chase.  We are proud of all of them for their many successes and accomplishments. Well done!

Thank you as always for taking the time to read these words. Please keep us in mind, and don’t hesitate to spread the word about all the good things happening at Mason! Do enjoy your Spring and Summer, and I’ll look forward to writing again in the Fall.


With warm regards,

Daniel Houser