$5 Million Gift from Charles Koch Foundation Will Support Department of Economics

George Mason University announced today that it has received a gift of $5 million from the Charles Koch Foundation to benefit Mason’s Nobel Prize-winning Department of Economics. The gift will be used to hire three new faculty members, including a senior scholar.

“Mason’s Economics Department is a top-ranked department, a source of pride for the university and a core reason we have earned a global reputation for excellence,” said Mason President Ángel Cabrera. “This generous gift builds on our legacy as a leader in the field of economics and as a top research university with a mission of public service.”

Mason is the largest public research university in Virginia and a Tier-I research institution, the highest designation from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The Economics Department, which has educated more than 4,000 undergraduate majors, 1,000 master’s students, and 400 PhDs during its four decades, is consistently regarded as one of the top programs in the world. Its faculty members have twice won the Nobel Prize for Economics.

“The accomplishments of our faculty speak to why we attract grants and gifts that advance our scholarly work,” Economics Department Chair Dan Houser said. “This funding will help Mason compete for top quality faculty in a competitive market and improve the excellence of economic education and research at George Mason University. Talented, diverse economists are what drive our department, provide undergraduates with a broad understanding of economics, and help prepare students seeking to become the next generation of scholars.”

Through grants to more than 350 colleges and universities, the Charles Koch Foundation provides resources that allow scholars and students to explore ideas and solutions that meet the challenges of our day.

“Mason was recently named among the top-tier research universities in the country. This distinction of academic excellence gives the university an opportunity to attract additional top-tier faculty and students, and this contribution will provide them the resources to do that,” said Charles Koch Foundation President Brian Hooks. “We’re glad to be able to support the expansion of an already world-class economics department and add to the opportunities available to Mason students.”

The Charles Koch Foundation’s gift was made in support of the department’s Buchanan-Smith Legacy Campaign, named after Mason’s two Nobel Laureates, Vernon Smith and the late James Buchanan. The campaign seeks to raise $15 million over three years to benefit students and faculty and advance the Economics Department’s reputation as a leader in the field.

The $5 million gift provides seed funding for six years that will allow the department to hire three new tenure-track faculty positions, including a senior scholar who can bring added leadership to the department, advise students and mentor faculty, and two junior scholars with promising research agendas.

The new faculty members will also have the opportunity to affiliate with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Mercatus is a non-profit research center that attracts scholars from across the globe, bridging the gap between academic ideas and real-world problems.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Mason,” said Tyler Cowen, the Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University and the general director of the Mercatus Center. “It helps us strengthen our faculty and attract talent that may someday bring a third Nobel Laureate to our campus.”

March 22, 2018 / adapted from gmu.edu story