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Finally, construction for the long awaited Arjona and Monteith replacements has begun. While the erection of the classroom-only building next to the Student Union has been steadily progressing, the second building has just started last week. Located between the Babbidge Library and the Hawley Armory (at the location of the “old Co-op”), it will have four floors. The first, pictured on the right (click for a larger view), will have classrooms, along with part of the second floor. Economics will share space with Linguistics on the third floor. It is scheduled to be ready for the Fall 2012 term.

Update: More about this on the UConn Today blog.

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Prof. Steve Cunningham will not be returning to the classroom this fall. He is retiring, effective September 1, to take the position of Director of Research and Education at the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER).

With humble beginnings somewhat analogous to UConn’s own CCEA (which he founded), the AIER began in a faculty office at MIT in 1933. MIT Vice President Vannevar Bush proposed an independent, objective, unbiased economic research organization offering its results directly to the public. The onset of the Great Depression had suggested the need for a research organization to inquire into the wide range of economic, social, and monetary developments that had contributed to the catastrophic economic contraction. The hope was that the development and use of scientific procedures of inquiry would be useful in avoiding a repetition of the disaster. To ensure objectivity, the AIER was created and funded so as to ensure its independence from special-interest groups. Currently the AIER is involved in research involving forecasts, impact studies, policy analysis, and methodology, primarily for the purpose of facilitating decision making, rather than influencing policy.

At the end of World War II, the AIER was relocated to more spacious accommodations-an English-style manor on 100 acres in the heart of the Massachusetts Berkshires. The E.C. Harwood Library was built in 1962 on the hillside below the Main House to accommodate research staff and its extensive library collection. This 10,000 square-foot building was renovated in 2002 and contains the principal offices for the AIER research and support staff.

The Institute employs economists at all levels, and also draws on scholars from academia, government, and private concerns. The organization offers numerous fellowships, internships, and scholarships. It has its own extensive publishing operations, producing a number of periodicals, books, and monographs.

In a note to the faculty, Professor Cunningham writes, “As you can imagine, this has not been an easy decision for me. I feel a good deal of loyalty and pride in the University, and feel that I have played some part it its progress. Besides my work in the Department and classroom, I was founding director of the CCEA and played an integral role in the UConn 2000 Committee which succeeded in getting a billion dollars of new funding for capital improvements across the campus. I testified before the State Assembly, and was involved in numerous State initiatives. I also feel enormous respect, loyalty, and friendship to my colleagues at UConn, with relationships developed over so many years and so much shared experience. I also owe so much to professionals like Rosanne, who have kept things going so smoothly-organizing, filling gaps, solving problems, keeping me pointed in the right direction-while maintaining such a friendly atmosphere. Most of all, working with such talented students has been truly one of the greatest gifts of my life. One does not walk away from so much without regrets.”

Professor Cunningham will continue to reside in Manchester, Connecticut, and will commute to the campus in Massachusetts. He hopes to maintain a close relationship to everyone at UConn.

So what does one do when on sabbatical? I can’t speak for others, but can tell you a bit about mine. My husband (who is a professor of Sociology at the University of Hartford) and I were fortunate enough to succeed in arranging sabbaticals for the same semester and so decided to spend our sabbatical in Costa Rica. My primary objective for the semester was to complete the draft chapters of a book I am working on with my co-authors Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Terra Lawson-Remer (both at the New School University in New York) on a methodology to monitor countries’ compliance with their obligations of result under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ICESCR. My husband is involved in creating a minor in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution at the University of Hartford, and his objective was to enrich his background in these areas. We affiliated with the University of Peace, UPEACE. UPEACE is a United Nations University dedicated to providing education, training and research related to the United Nations’ goal of promoting worldwide peace and security. It offers eight interdisciplinary MA programs in areas related to peace and security, including one on international law and human rights, my interest.

UPEACE is situated just outside of Ciudad Colón about 15 miles southwest of San José, so we rented an efficiency apartment in Ciudad Colón. Our affiliation with UPEACE enabled us to interact with faculty (and students) from all over the world with interests similar to ours through seminars, brown bags, and informal meals and gatherings. It also gave us access to their library. Both factors facilitated our work. TheInter-American Institute for Human Rights, IIHR, (the research and education body charged with promoting and strengthening respect for human rights as set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights) is also located in San José and provided me with additional networking opportunities. Beyond the enrichment gained through our affiliation with UPEACE and interactions with the IIHR, I succeeded in drafting four chapters of my book. And yes, work time was punctuated by several rainforest hikes, white water rafting trips, and beach trips. As the saying goes, “All work and no play…,” and how could one possibly resist Costa Rica’s natural riches?

Prof. Zimmermann has been appointed to the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis as Assistant Vice President of Research Information. Beyond regular research activities, he will be involved in the information and data provision of the Bank, including its flagship FRED database.

Prof. Zimmermann will join the Bank after the Spring 2011 term.

Juan-Pedro Garces defended on 4 August 2010 his dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Susan Randolph. The main topic of his dissertation is how education contributes to economic development. In one of the chapters, he pays special attention to the quality of education, trying to determine whether private schools deliver more educational quality than public ones, with special reference to the case of Chile, his native country. The dissertation also tackles the issue of the influence of population density on productivity, and how is affected by the level of education of the population. For this purpose, the study uses panel data on a sample of more than 100 countries, mostly developing ones. The third chapter of the dissertation focuses on institutions, testing the mainstream literature on the effects of institutional governance on economic growth and development. His work tries to determine the way in which the level of education affects institutional governance, finding a new channel through which education can enhance economic growth.

Juan-Pedro will be a visiting instructor at Wake Forest University, North Carolina.

Professor Xenia Matschke has joined Universität Trier in Germany as a full professor of International Economic Policy starting August 1, 2010, where she will actively participate in the establishment of graduate programs in economics. Founded by the Romans, Trier is the oldest city in Germany and is located in the wine-growing Moselle region, near the Luxembourg border. After spending 6 years at UConn, Professor Matschke feels ready to take on new challenges; also, she wants to be closer to family and see her kids grow up in Germany. The decision to leave UConn was not an easy one and she will miss her colleagues, students, and friends there. The Department laments the loss of an outstanding young faculty member, but also extends its very best wishes for a smooth transition and continued success.

The RePEc Author Service, which is hosted at the UConn College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and managed by Prof. Zimmermann has just welcomed its 25,000th registered author. This service allows economists to build an on-line profile with all the works they have authored and that are listed in RePEc. A part from having this profile displayed and linked to from individual works on RePEc services like EconPapers and IDEAS, this allows authors to obtain monthly statistics about the popularity of their works, along with new citations discovered by the CitEc project. Collected data is also used to computed various rankings. Note that the 25,000 count only includes registered people who have at least one work listed in the profile. There are about 7,000 other registrations with empty profiles from people who have either overlooked this feature or not yet published some works. A listing of all registered authors is available on EconPapers and IDEAS.

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