A letter to Alumni from the Department Chair

By: Michael Lovenheim, Economics Department Chair, 
Mon, 08/20/2018

Dear Alumni,

I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself as a new member of the Department of Economics at Cornell and as the new Department Chair. I received an undergraduate degree in Economics from Amherst College in 2000 and a PhD from the University of Michigan in 2007. After spending two years as a post-doctoral fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, I had the good fortune of accepting a faculty position at Cornell in Policy Analysis and Management (PAM) in 2009, where I have been ever since. 

While I am new to the Department, I am not new to the University or to Economics at Cornell. I have been an active member of the Field of Economics throughout my time at the University, teaching courses in the PhD program and supervising students. As well, one of my undergraduate courses is cross-listed with Economics: Economics of Education (some of you may have taken it!).  

Much of my research focuses on the economics of education, a topic on which I published a textbook in 2017. I am very interested in understanding how students make postsecondary investment decisions, how family and institutional resources affect these decisions as well as student educational success, and what factors drive the labor market returns to college. I also study teacher labor market policies, including the effect of teachers unions on student achievement and how teacher merit pay affects student learnings. My research further explores issues in local public finance and taxation, such as how cross-border purchasing opportunities undermine the goals of state and local cigarette taxes. 

The tools and insights of economics are critical to developing a better understanding of the world around us and to the productivity of a workforce that is increasingly skill-dependent. The value of strong economics training has never been higher for our students and for society. I am proud of the outstanding programs run by the Department that have produced highly-successful and impactful undergraduate and graduate students who will be the leaders of tomorrow. 

While the Economics Department has wonderful faculty, students and staff, this is a time of great change for us as many of our treasured faculty retire. It will be challenging to replace so many top-notch scholars, colleagues, and friends, but it also is an exciting opportunity to invest in the next generation of economists who will form the foundation of the Department’s future. Although there will be many new faces in the years to come, our commitment to being at the forefront of research and teaching will not change. 

Much of what we are able to do in the Department of Economics is due to the generous support of our alumni. Your contributions help us to continue to support our faculty, students and staff as well as to engage in new and exciting initiatives that will enhance the quality of the programs we offer. I thank you for your ongoing generosity and look forward to working with all of you in the years to come to help Cornell Economics be as successful as possible. 


Michael Lovenheim
Economics Department Chair

Economics Department Chair, Michael Lovenheim