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Maxwell School to establish Paul Volcker Chair in Behavioral Economics

September 20, 2011

Jill Leonhardt
(315) 443-5492

The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs has announced that it has received a major gift from Robert B. Menschel to establish the Paul Volcker Chair in Behavioral Economics at the school, in recognition of Volcker’s exceptional accomplishments and service to the nation.

“We are deeply grateful to Mr. Menschel for this generous endowment, made in honor of a longtime friend and supporter of the Maxwell School,” says Dean James Steinberg. “Paul Volcker exemplifies the spirit of public service and engaged citizenry that Maxwell embodies, and we look forward to recruiting for the chair an outstanding individual committed to cutting-edge research and applying scholarship to contemporary economic challenges. The addition of the chair will further strengthen Maxwell’s position as a leading voice in economic theory and public policy, and its occupant will inspire students to be exceptional thinkers and devoted in their service to others, following Paul Volcker’s example.”

Volcker’s distinguished career includes eight years as chairman of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve under Presidents Carter and Reagan; four years as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; and, most recently, two years as chair of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. In addition, he served as undersecretary of treasury for international monetary affairs and was chairman of the prominent New York investment banking firm J. Rothschild, Wolfensohn & Co. Volcker also chaired the National Commission on the Public Service, which focused on the changes needed to restore vitality and credibility to the public service.

Menschel, senior director at Goldman Sachs Group and trustee emeritus of Syracuse University, says, “The subject of crowd behavior has deeply interested me from my earliest days at Syracuse and has played a key role in my thinking ever since. I couldn’t be more pleased to play a role in establishing a chair in behavioral economics at Syracuse’s Maxwell School and with Paul’s willingness to lend his prestige to a chair on this subject.”

“The establishment of the Volcker Chair speaks volumes about Bob Menschel as a person,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “Bob’s giving is never about Bob. It’s about using our gifts—our creativity, intellect and talent, as well as our resources—to make a real difference in the world. That is SU’s hallmark as well and from his profoundly generous support for the University Lectures, to the Menschel Media Center, to the William Safire Chair in Modern Letters, to this latest demonstration of his incredible breadth and depth of vision, Bob exemplifies true generosity of spirit.”

The field of behavioral economics is a relatively new one. Behavioral economists use social, cognitive and emotional factors to understand the economic decisions of individuals and institutions, as well as the effects those decisions have on larger economic systems such as market prices, returns and savings. Drawing on insights from the fields of both psychology and economics, behavioral economists study economic judgment and the factors that influence how economic choices are actually made.

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