Economics prof numbered among Western's best
By Ed Stack
Western has a new feather in its cap after a faculty member was awarded a prestigious prize yesterday.
The 1997 John Charles Polanyi Prize in economics was given to assistant professor Jeffrey Smith during the University's Annual Community Meeting.
Smith, an assistant professor with the department of economics, received the award to recognize his work in labour economics. His studies concentrated on evaluating the effectiveness of job training and social programs. Topics, he said, of interest to him since his undergraduate years.
Smith came to Western in 1994 after being lured away from the University of Chicago where he earned his Master's and Doctoral degrees. "I decided to come to Western after being advised by my colleagues to go to the best department that I got an offer from."
The Polanyi Prize is not the first award for Smith who earned the W.P. Upjohn award earlier this year for his dissertation on labour economics. Yet Smith does not stay in London for the awards alone he has been very impressed with the quality of the honours economics students and the city, he said.
"London is a great town, it sure beats the south side of Chicago," he said, adding he can hardly wait to drive around the city in the new car he will probably purchase with the $15,000 prize.
In the near future, Smith hopes to focus his research on Canadian topics including the interaction between the university and college systems and the effects of regulation on the economy. He finds it interesting to take research and put it into practice.
"It is important to get faculty members with a variety of backgrounds and strengths," said Jim Davies, chair of the department of economics. Western is active in recruiting staff through advertising and career conventions, yet all universities send out information about available PhD students on the market.
"Professor Smith is an outstanding applied econometrician and labour economist and reinforces a traditional area of strength at Western," Davies said. Presently, no faculty members in the department of economics have a PhD from Western.
Davies said he believes awards like the Polanyi Prize are important because they help communicate to the general community what the university is doing. "Western's economic department is number one in Canada."
Susan Hoddinott, director of the office of research services, said it is important to publicly recognize quality work and she is happy for Smith.
"Prizes to faculty members in the early stages of their careers often serve as an impetus to attract additional funding to attract more scholarly acclaim."