Yale announced the creation of a new research enterprise, the Tobin Center for Economic Policy at Yale, named after the late James Tobin, iconic faculty member and Nobel laureate. The center will advance rigorous, evidence-based research aimed at defining and informing policy debate.
Alumni, parents and friends of the university have contributed more than $60 million to establish the Tobin Center, including an anonymous lead gift of $30 million. Anita and Josh Bekenstein ’80 and Amandine and Stephen Freidheim ’86 are among the major donors making donations to endow the center and finance the construction of a new building to house it.
“The Tobin Center will reinforce Yale’s vital role in informing data-driven public policy discussions,” said President Peter Salovey ’86 Ph.D. “I am so grateful to our donors for supporting the Yale’s emphasis on the importance of using empirical approaches in the social sciences to address today’s greatest challenges.”
The Tobin Center will bring together faculty members, students, and visiting experts, award research grants, and communicate its findings to a broad audience including policy makers and the public. The center will have a faculty director, an executive director and a group of professors drawn from departments and schools of the university.
The creation of the Tobin Center is part of a strategic investment to build Yale’s strength in data-driven economic policy. It will also fill a need in the United States for nonpartisan, policy-relevant research by top-notch academic economists.
Yale’s economics department is consistently ranked among the best in the world in econometrics, economic theory, industrial organization, international business, and the study of developing economies. The new center will build on these strengths and strengthen its capacity to analyze national policies. It will also invite participation from Yale’s social science departments in the Faculty of Arts and Science, schools of law, management, forestry and public health, and other academic resources. This broad foundation will position the Tobin Center as a leading voice on critical issues such as health, education, tax reform, environmental economics, and other concerns that affect the daily lives and well-being of million people in the United States.
“Our students become leaders in public policy and other fields to serve all sectors of society. The centre’s internationally renowned faculty members will teach our young scholars to think critically about various aspects of local and global communities and apply rigorous analysis to answer policy questions,” said Salovey.
Managing Director of Bain Capital, Josh Bekenstein was named successor director of the Yale Corporation in 2013. impact on domestic policy issues, an important role for Yale,” Bekenstein said.
Stephen Freidheim, founder of Cyrus Capital and former student of Tobin, said: “Professor Jim Tobin had a profound impact on me. He devoted his energy and vast intellect to applying economics to the betterment of people and society. He was both brilliant and compassionate. The application and implementation of carefully structured economic theories by leading Yale professors and students is the foundation of Yale’s history in economics and has had a much broader positive impact on the well-being of society. , of our university and of so many individuals. This center celebrates Yale’s proud history, and I hope it more firmly cements Yale as the world’s premier university by applying rigorous academic economic thinking to real-world problems. It will be a deep, enduring, and growing mark of the study of economics at Yale in the future.
University provost Ben Polak will appoint a faculty planning committee in fall 2018, and the center will begin operations in spring 2019. To complete the proposed building, the university will select an architect this summer and begin design work; the facility is expected to open in 2022.
Plans for the new building will include faculty offices and spaces for research fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate researchers, as well as convening spaces for workshops and other events. The goal is a state-of-the-art facility that can support a vibrant community of scholars conducting data-driven national policy analysis.
Polak describes the center’s mission as setting the agenda for the economics profession: “In founding the Tobin Center, we are saying that a world-class economics department should contribute to domestic policy. We’ll shed empirical light on issues, suggest and test ideas, and find what works and what doesn’t.
“This will benefit the university as a whole,” Polak added. “A great university thrives on engaging in the great political debates of its time.”
Tamar Gendler, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, said, “With the Tobin Center, Yale can provide new opportunities for faculty members to conduct research on ‘big ideas’ on critical issues, in the purpose of communicating the results of their research to those who develop and implement public policy. The center will energize the many bright minds at Yale who are already looking at relevant policy issues through an economic lens. At the same time, it will help attract top academics to join the faculty across a range of disciplines.
Alan Gerber, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science’s Division of Social Sciences, notes that the Tobin Center is part of a university-wide effort to use big data to illuminate important questions. “We are beginning to realize the promise of computational breakthroughs to accelerate intellectual exploration in the social sciences,” Gerber said. “We have faster computers, larger datasets and new techniques for querying them. Pattern recognition and machine learning allow us to extract meaning from large amounts of data, and natural language processing allows us to analyze large bodies of text.
To make the most of these developments, Yale recently revamped its statistics department as the new Department of Statistics and Data Science, a process, Gerber notes, that involved exceptional faculty hires and a new first-in-class major. cycle. “Across the social sciences, we continue to look for ways in which approaches to data can change research and teaching,” he said. “The Tobin Center builds on this work.
The operations of the Tobin Center will be modeled after other successful academic centers in the Department of Economics, such as the Cowles Foundation and the Center for Economic Growth. The center will disburse targeted funds to affiliated professors, with the aim of analyzing policy options and, based on this analysis, formulating policy recommendations. Students, recent graduates and postdoctoral fellows will participate in this research. The center will disseminate research findings through workshops and seminars, white papers, conferences, academic journals, and the center’s website.
The Tobin Center will be an important presence on campus, hosting policy talks and other public events.
“We want Yale research to find its way into the real world,” Polak said. “The Tobin Center will bring together the best professors and students around these issues, and their insights will be easily accessible to decision-makers.”