Nobel economist to lecture at Trinity this April

At 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17 in the Ruth Taylor Recital Hall economist and 2010 Nobel Prize winner Peter Diamond will give the lecture “My Evolution as an Economist” to Trinity students and administration, as well as the surrounding San Antonio community.

Started in 1984 by Nobel Prize economist, professor emeritus and former E.M. Stevens Distinguished Professor of Economics William Breit, the Nobel Economist Lecture Series has hosted world-renowned economists nearly every year since. Transcripts of the first 23 lectures are in the fifth edition of Lives and Laureates, the 2009 MIT Press volume.

Diamond, known best for his extensive research and analysis of the United States’ Social Security policy, is currently an institute professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received a bachelor’s degree  in mathematics from Yale University in 1960 and later earned a Ph.D from MIT in 1963. Along with serving in many other capacities, Diamond was President Obama’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“I think it’s so amazing to have someone so qualified and someone so respected internationally come speak to us,” said first year economics major Esteban Rodriguez-Vazquez. “I think it provides us with a good opportunity to understand how they format their speeches and what they want to talk about, and just getting the experience of someone so qualified and respected.”

According to Michael Fischer, vice president of academic affairs, the “evolution” theme of Diamond’s upcoming lecture may be especially useful for students looking to the future.

“To hear them talk about how they got to where they are is a great opportunity. I think as a student you sometimes think people arrive at the end without going through any process of development and they are somehow magically economists, physicians, or lawyers, and reporters,” Fischer said. “Its interesting to learn how they get to where they are. Sometimes there are challenges, there are dead ends and failures. It’s interesting to retrace the process.”

According to senior economics major Claire Hoffman, even if students disagree with the political affiliations or views of the lecturer, it can still prove a useful application of economic knowledge, as was the case when she attended the 2012 Nobel Economist Lecture by Paul Krugman.

“I disagreed with a lot of what he had to say, but I still thought that his arguments were well-reasoned,” Hoffman said. “If you agree with him, it will strengthen your opinions. If you disagree with him, you will question what you believe and then further prove your arguments. So, I think it’s awesome to have speakers that speak about such controversial topics, and really influence how we think about what we know.”

Hosting Nobel economists such as Diamond attracts not only economics majors and other students, but many members of the San Antonio community also. According to Rodriguez-Vazquez, this can also be perceived as a benefit for the university and its attendees.

“I think there is a reason that two former presidents and a Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke at Trinity,” Rodriguez-Vasquez said. “I think it really gives Trinity a good representation to national universities that we are able to attract such notable and qualified speakers, lecturers, and policy makers, and economist, and academics. Even though we are a small school and not that well known, people know of us and we are respected in Texas because of that. So, I think the lecture series does a lot in attracting more students.”

The lecture is open to the public and is free to attend.