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Dissolution of Economics and Policy Studies

James J. Rakowski | Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In The Observer article “Branch of econ dept. to be dissolved,” Jan. 19 on the impending dissolution of the Department of Economics and Policy Studies I read that [Dean] “McGreevy said the proposed changes would help faculty members currently in Economics and Policy Studies participate in economic conversations.”

That prospect is not credible in light of the performance of Dean McGreevy and Dean Roche before him in presiding over the quite remarkable situation in which members of the Department of Economics and Policy Studies (ECOP) have been unable to simply get information on public seminars and internal workshops offered by the Department of Economics and Econometrics (ECOE).

I will be retiring at the end of this semester and am not affected by the impending changes; but for the last few years of my career I have engaged in futile efforts to maintain contacts with colleagues in ECOE. I would have very much liked to take advantage of the many speakers they have brought in; but despite appeals to a coordinator of their speakers series, to Dean Roche and Dean McGreevy and to ECOE chairperson Richard Jensen, I have been unable to access sufficient information on their seminars and workshops.

Before he left office in June of 2008 Dean Roche replied to one of my protestations in an e-mail: “Apparently ECOE lists their seminars on their Web site (I am told that the first two for the fall are listed there) and does not use a listserv; but I have asked that the listserv for the internal brown bag workshops include interested persons from ECOP.”
It seems remarkable that a dean of a college would have to make such a request of one of his departments; but it is even more remarkable that apparently such a request would simply be denied.

Certainly there has been no listserv; and I invite interested readers to visit ECOE’s Web site to see the extent of information displayed there.

I have pursued the issue repeatedly with Dean McGreevy, once heatedly in a reaction to a boast in The Observer last fall that “we are trying to create the best economic conversation we can have at Notre Dame.” Although he has not been forthcoming in explaining what is going on, he has apparently taken the stand that he cannot or will not do anything about it — other than dissolve ECOP. That members of ECOP, several of whom have taught economics in the College of Arts and Letters for over 40 years, cannot get information on upcoming seminars and workshops — in economics, in the College of Arts and Letters — strikes me as an egregious repudiation of academic civility and does not bode well for my colleagues who carry on.


James J. Rakowski
associate professor
Economics and Policy Studies
Jan. 19