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Another story about Segerson’s Austin Chair, this time from the UConn Foundation:

When Philip E. Austin announced his retirement from the University presidency in 2007, longtime donors quickly came together to create a lasting tribute and preserve his legacy of service. In keeping with Austin’s dedication to education and research, a $1.5-million endowed chair was created in his name to memorialize his tenure and support the work of a nationally renowned scholar. The University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees recently awarded the chair to Kathleen Segerson (IDEAS), a highly regarded professor of economics with 22 years at UConn.

Specializing in law and the environment, Segerson is at the cutting edge of scholarly inquiry and research into some of the most pressing questions of the twenty-first century. She is an expert in three areas critical to the future: natural resource and environmental economics; law and economics; and applied microeconomics. Support through the Philip E. Austin Endowed Chair will enable her to delve deeper into these focus areas.

“This position will allow me to enhance my own research on the links between economics and the environment and the design of public policies to address environmental problems. It will increase my ability to participate in interdisciplinary collaborations and exchanges, which are essential in my research,” says Segerson.

She also notes that the endowment will have effects beyond her own research.

“The position brings recognition not only to the University but to the economics department as well,” she explains. “I hope the chair can be used to advance the contributions of the department, through, for example, fostering exchanges related to a variety of public policy issues, such as education, health care and housing.”

Segerson joined UConn as a visiting assistant professor in 1986. She holds a joint appointment in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, where she headed the Department of Economics from 2001 to 2005, and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

In 2007, she was appointed to the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences. Last year, she was selected to be a fellow of both the American Agricultural Economics Association and the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.

As a nationally recognized expert, Segerson’s counsel has been requested on a number of government and professional committees, including an expert panel on climate change economics for the U.S. General Accounting Office, the Science Advisory Board of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.

Her teaching and accomplishments have earned her recognition from students and colleagues alike. Segerson has received the Most Appreciated Faculty Award from the Association of Graduate Economics Students three times. She also has received the Research Excellence Award from the UConn chapter of the American Association of University Professors and the Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching from the UConn Alumni Association.

Segerson earned a B.A. in mathematics from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. in environmental natural resource economics from Cornell University.

As UConn’s thirteenth president, Austin led the University through a period of remarkable transition from 1996 to 2007. He oversaw UConn’s dramatic physical transformation and steep rise in national prominence for academic excellence. Austin’s tenure also was marked by a fivefold growth of the endowment.

“It is a real honor to be appointed to a chair that was endowed in recognition of President Austin’s many contributions to the University of Connecticut. Under his leadership, the University made great strides forward, and I am very pleased to be a part of honoring his legacy,” says Segerson.

Approach life with a positive attitude, protect your health, and be personally accountable. That’s the advice businessman and philanthropist Denis McCarthy gave to students at UConn’s winter commencement exercises in Gampel Pavilion on Dec. 14.

About 800 students – including more than half who earned their degrees from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences – were joined by friends and family members for the ceremony.

Having a positive attitude in life helps build self-confidence, McCarthy told the crowd. “Certainly you have to be realistic depending on the subject or circumstance, but having that ‘can do’ attitude will help you be enthusiastic and passionate about what you do professionally,” he said. “Those are two excellent leadership skills.”

McCarthy is the retired chairman, CEO, and president of Fidelity Management Trust Co., a subsidiary of Fidelity Investments, one of the world’s leading providers of financial services. During the ceremony, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

McCarthy earned a bachelor’s degree in finance at UConn in 1964, and a master’s degree in economics in 1965. He is co-chair of UConn’s capital campaign and a member of the UConn Foundation board of directors, which he chaired from 2000-2004.

Read more at UConn Advance

As part of his sabbatical semester last Fall, Professor Christian Zimmermann (IDEAS) has given a series of talks through Europe, talking about various aspects of his research. At the Swiss National Bank, Universität St. Gallen, Banque de France and Université de Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne), he talked about the impact of bank capital regulation on credit. At the Graduate Institute for International Studies in Geneva and Université de Toulouse, he talked about the interaction of malaria with the economy. At Universität Konstanz, he discussed his work with RePEc. He also gave five lectures on macroeconomic theory with heterogeneous agents at the Paris School of Economics.

In addition to his travels in Europe, Prof. Zimmermann spent several weeks at the University of California Santa Barbara, giving three lectures on the topics above and gave another talk at York University of his work on the economics of malaria.

Lawrence Posner with Professors Ray and Heffley

Lawrence Posner with Professors Ray and Heffley

From CLAS Notes:

Retirement in the traditional sense held little interest for Lawrence E. Posner, MD, ’05 MA, Economics.

In 2003 he retired from Bayer Pharmaceutical Corp., West Haven, Conn., where he was senior vice president for research and development and worldwide head of regulatory affairs, overseeing some 800 employees.

He then accepted an offer to become head of U.S. R & D for Yamanouchi Pharma Ltd. of Tokyo, but left when that company merged with another and moved to Chicago.

That freed him to do what most people with an MD and a successful career behind them might not: Go back to school.

It had been on his mind for a while. He felt comfortable in the world of ideas and research – he began his career with specialty training in medical oncology, then spent three years at the National Cancer Institute, studying RNA tumor viruses and working in the Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology under Dr. Robert Gallo, a pioneer in HIV research.

This time, he wanted to study economics – not business, he notes, but academic economics.

“Economists like to focus on utility – why people make decisions,” he says. “Economics give you that kind of perspective, on why people make certain choices.”

Returning to school at age 56 proved to be daunting. Most schools would not accept him as a degree student, and some did not even respond to his inquiries.

Metin M. Cosgel, professor of economics in CLAS at UConn, suggested that he enroll for a master’s degree rather than a PhD, to see how he liked it.

So Posner took an apartment on campus in Storrs, commuting home to Greenwich on weekends, and started his first semester with four courses.

“The teaching at UConn was great. The faculty was so well prepared and had such a command of the material,” he says.

And it was tough. In Prof. Kathleen Segerson’s micro-economics course, where he was the oldest student in the class and couldn’t read the blackboard because of a cataract, he earned a C.

He had been a good math student as an undergraduate at Brandeis University, but that was in the days when calculating meant whipping out a slide rule. As a grad student at UConn, he had to learn simple computer programming and revisit statistics, matrix algebra, and calculus.

Other grad students – some the same age as his son – helped him.

“I’m very grateful for my study group,” he says.

“Medical school was easy compared to going back,” adds Posner, who earned his MD with honors at Case Western Reserve University.

But Posner stuck with it, brought up his grade average, and earned his degree. He is now writing a paper with his thesis adviser, Prof. Dennis Heffley, on the effects of health care spending on life expectancy.

Health care policy, a hot button issue on the state and national political scenes, is one of his interests.

“The solution is not that hard,” he maintains. “There are ways out there to spend less with similar outcomes.”

After earning his master’s, he accepted a two-year contract assignment with Bayer, his former employer, before it merged with Schering AG.

Now he serves on corporate pharmaceutical boards – Labopharm, Inc., and Noxxon Pharma AG – and he is a general partner at Vedanta Capital in New York City, where he specializes in health care investments.

His wife, Amy Newburger, has a dermatology practice. Their daughter recently entered medical school at Columbia University Medical Center at 26, after majoring in theater arts in college, and their son is in graduate school in mathematics at New York University.

“To this day, they want to know why I didn’t walk at graduation,” he says.

But he is proud of his hard-earned degree. As he told Heffley, when Beethoven was asked which of his works he was proudest of, he referred to his only opera, Fidelio, because it was the most difficult and therefore the most dear.

Shortly after earning his master’s, Posner was approached by a biotechnology company in California that was looking for a CEO, but he would have had to relocate from Connecticut for up to three years.

His question to himself was, “Is it really going to make my life that much better?” he says.

“You start making economic decisions,” he adds.

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