Chicago University Often Vies for Economics Prize Members of the University of Chicago's renowned economics department are perennial contenders for the Nobel Prize in economics, illustrated once again by Monday's announcement.
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Chicago University Often Vies for Economics Prize

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Chicago University Often Vies for Economics Prize

Chicago University Often Vies for Economics Prize

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And as we've heard, one of the economists who's sharing in today's Nobel Prize is a professor at the University of Chicago. Roger Myerson is the 80th person with ties to the University of Chicago to win or share in a Nobel. There have been two dozen winners of the economics prize with USC connections, and five other Nobel winners are current faculty members.

NPR's David Schaper went to the campus today.

DAVID SCHAPER: The reaction today on the University of Chicago campus to having yet another Nobel Prize winner is, well, many students just aren't too surprised.

Ms. HELEN MARY SHERIDAN(ph) (Student, University of Chicago): It's, kind of, an atmosphere of - well, you know, we'll add it to our collection. We'll polish it and put on the rack. Around here, it's not that special. It's appreciated, but there's a little bit of a over-winning pride, perhaps.

SCHAPER: Helen Mary Sheridan is a second year art history major here from Watertown, Massachusetts. She says despite what some may perceive as a bit of arrogance over winning the prize, to her, this award celebrates the kind of academic environment that exists on campus.

Ms. SHERIDAN: The idea of a strict - well, not strictly academic, but so focused on intellectual enterprise and a real dedication to the pursuit of learning throughout one's career and not just, you know, you do your four years and then you go off and, you know, into the real world, which have nothing to do with the intellectual atmosphere. I wanted that commitment all the way through. So, you know, when I'm 80, maybe I'll be, you know, maybe I'll win a Nobel Prize. Doubtful, but my parents hope so.

SCHAPER: Laslow Yokab(ph) came to study economics at the University of Chicago from Budapest, Hungary, specifically because of its Nobel winners.

Mr. LASLOW YOKAB (Student, University of Chicago): Obviously, I am not from here. I have never been to the U.S. before coming here. And most of my - the decision to come here stemmed from knowing about the reputation of the university in economics.

SCHAPER: As a second year undergrad, Yokab says he's in lower level classes that aren't taught by Nobel winners. But, he says, it still reassures him about the overall quality of the school. The University of Chicago is so used to honoring Nobel Prize winners that setting up a news conference for Myerson in the Student Union Building goes like clockwork.

Mr. JOHN EASTON (Spokesman, University of Chicago Hospital): I think the whole university community somehow has gotten used to this happening virtually every year. And so people are certainly aware of Nobel week around here and think about it and, you know, probably check to see where certain people are during that week.

SCHAPER: That's University of Chicago Hospital spokesman, John Easton, who's helping his campus media relations colleagues. And he says even though it's all hands on deck, the event itself is kind of a routine.

Mr. EASTON: There's like a 15-page memo that goes out every year a week or so before the Nobel thing. If this happens, we do this. If this guy wins, we do this. These are the people we'll try to get for the event.

SCHAPER: In the news conference, Roger Myerson, the co-winner of today's Nobel Prize for Economics, sings the praises of the University of Chicago.

Mr. ROGER MYERSON (Winner, Nobel Prize for Economics): This is a great institution. This place has been - from the beginning, from its foundation, has been a place that was determined to cultivate ideas. And in many fields, it does it very, very well.

SCHAPER: But Myerson also gives credit where credit is due. He only came to the University of Chicago six years ago, and he wanted to stress that much of the research and work for which he is being honored today, he did at the University of Chicago's cross-town intellectual rival, Northwestern University, where he worked for 25 years.

David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago.

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