Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday September 20, 2011

Maxwell School to Establish Paul Volcker Chair in Behavioral Economics

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Jill Leonhardt
The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University announced today 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 long-time friend and supporter of the Maxwell School,” said 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. 

Robert 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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The Maxwell School of Syracuse University is the premier academic institution in the United States committed to scholarship, civic leadership, and education in public and international affairs. Maxwell is home to Syracuse University’s social science departments and to numerous nationally recognized multidisciplinary graduate programs in public policy, international studies, social policy, and conflict resolution. Maxwell's graduate program in public administration -- the first of its kind in the nation -- is ranked consistently the leading graduate public affairs program in the country.