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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.