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Hoffman to Discuss Behavioral Economics, Academic Advancement for Women, and More

Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman, presenting to campus on December 4

Elizabeth Hoffman, an expert in experimental and behavioral economics, will meet with several faculty and student groups at Michigan Tech, Monday and Tuesday, December 3 and 4.

Hoffman, currently professor of economics at Iowa State, will be giving four separate presentations over the two days. Her forty-plus years in academia have included stints as a university president and executive vice president and provost, and she will address different aspects of her research and experience.

At her University-wide keynote Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in the Memorial Union Ballroom A2, she’ll address “The Evolution of Experimental and Behavioral Economics.” This event is open to the public.

“Starting in the 1950s, a small number of experimental economists challenged the economics orthodoxy of the day by studying markets in an experimental laboratory setting,” Hoffman says. “This early work helped shape our understanding of how markets work.”

Before the 1987 stock market crash, Hoffman says most economists believed that bubbles and crashes wouldn’t happen because sophisticated traders would not allow prices to deviate from intrinsic value. The 1987 crash burst that thought bubble, and more recently, behavioral economists have shown that the beliefs of unsophisticated traders can actually drive up prices, well over their intrinsic values, witness the housing bubble that burst recently.

“With my coauthor Vernon Smith [2002 Nobel Prize winner], we also looked at two-person bargaining games that feature cooperation and competition. The results revealed, among other traits, that observation leads to more fairness, equity and equality,” she says.

Hoffman will have lunch with female faculty members at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday and discuss the status of women in academia. Acknowledging that there remains underrepresentation of women in many fields, she will discuss the importance of family-friendly programs, especially as they pertain to the child-bearing years of female graduate students, postdocs and faculty.

“While provost at Iowa State, I was able to raise the numbers of female and minority senior administrators from 20 to 60 percent,” she says. “And I was able to do so with the best people for the positions by eliminating unintended bias and ensuring that every employment pool was highly diverse.”

With the Senate Finance Committee, she will discuss “Responsibility-centered Budgeting in Higher Education.” At Iowa State, it featured decentralized budgeting with deans responsible for space and faculty benefits, including start-up costs, among other budget issues.

“Our results were dramatically positive,” she says “Even though we started it in July 2008 in the midst of the recession and lost 25 percent of our state budget, we grew our incoming student numbers by almost one quarter.” With the Senate Finance Committee at 2 p.m. Monday, she also plans to discuss faculty accountability, a subject she addressed recently in an article on the Inside Higher Ed website.

At 9:35 a.m. Tuesday, she’ll visit a class, EC4640 Natural Resource Economics, and discuss “Property Rights and the Coase Theorem.” Hoffman is an expert on the Coase Theorem, named after 1991 Nobel Prize in Economics winner Ronald Coase. It is an important basis for most modern economic analyses of government regulation.

Hoffman’s visit is part of the Visiting Women and Minority Lecturer/Scholar Series. This event is funded by the Michigan Tech President’s Office and a grant to the Office for Institutional Diversity for the State of Michigan’s King-Chavez-Parks Initiative.

Written by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor, published in Tech Today.


Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman Visits Michigan Tech

Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman, presenting to campus on Tuesday, December 4th.

As part of the Visiting Women & Minority Lecturer/Scholar Series, Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman will be on campus December 3rd and 4th, 2012.

Please join the School of Business and Economics in welcoming Dr. Hoffman during her presentation to the campus community at 4pm on Tuesday, December 4th in the Memorial Union Building, Ballroom (A2). Her presentation is titled, “The Evolution of Experimental and Behavioral Economics.” A short reception will follow in Ballroom A1. This is an excellent networking opportunity for students, faculty, and staff.

More about Dr. Hoffman

Elizabeth (Betsy) Hoffman is currently Professor of Economics at Iowa State, whereshe was Executive Vice President and Provost from 2007 to 2012. Previously, she was President of the University of Colorado System. She is a 1968 graduate of Smith College, holds doctoral degrees in economics and history, and has been an accomplished university administrator, faculty member, and researcher over a career spanning 40 years.

She served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where she also held concurrent academic appointments as professor of economics, history, political science and psychology, as well as professor in the Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

She joined UIC after serving as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University. Before moving to Iowa State in 1993, she held academic and administrative positions at the University of Florida, Northwestern University, Purdue University, the University of Wyoming and the University of Arizona.

She is currently on the Boards of Marsico Capital Management, Smith College, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, and the Science Center of Iowa. Over her career, she has served on more than 20 boards, including the Board of Directors of Target Corporation, the National Science Board, and the Space Telescope Institute Council, which oversees the management of the Hubble Space Telescope.

In 1988, she was awarded the Coase Prize for Excellence in the Study of Law and Economics, together with her o-author, Matthew Spitzer. In 2010, she was awarded the Carolyn Shaw Bell Award, for her work in advancing the status of women in the economics profession, from the American Economic Association. In 2011, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine, as well as the Margaret Sloss award for Gender Equity from Iowa State University. In 2012 she was named a Woman Impacting Iowa State by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics.

She earned a doctorate in history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1972 and a second doctorate in economics from California Institute of Technology in 1979. She received a bachelor’s degree in history from Smith College in 1968 and a master’s degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1969.

She is married to Brian R. Binger, who earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. in economics from California Institute of Technology, also in 1979. They live in Ames, Iowa and Golden, Colorado.

This event is funded by the Michigan Tech President’s Office and a grant to the Office for Institutional Diversity for the State of Michigan’s King-Chavez-Parks Initiative.

To learn more about Dr. Hoffman, visit her profile.

Video of Dr. Hoffman’s presentation at Michigan Tech

Your viewers will need Real Player to watch the video stream. A free player can be downloaded at www.real.com.