UH-Manoa Economics: A Brief Modern History, 1962-2007

With energy from its nine new hires pulsating through the fifth floor of Saunders Hall (and, yes, the newly installed office and hallway lights do use less energy and they turn on much faster than the old lights), the College of Social Sciences has asked the Department to develop a five-year plan, outlining how its academic programs and research might evolve over the next five years. (Yes comrades, output will double every five years until we are number one and then it will increase at a pace never before seen, not even at Harvard or Princeton ...) For now, March 2007, there is considerable optimism regarding the future. The 6-year contract between the faculty union and the University is in its fourth year, and it provides for across-the-board raises of 9 percent in August 2007 and 11 percent in August 2008 to all tenure-track faculty. Faculty research productivity, the number of undergraduate majors, and faculty service contributions continue to rise. Since 2001, several faculty members have been the recipients of multi-year extramural grants that have provided support for graduate students and improved the quality and visibility of the Department's research outputs. These include Jerry Russo's project on health insurance and the uninsured population in Hawaii, Andy Mason's project to develop intergenerational accounts for Asian countries, Byron Gangnes and Carl Bonham's project (facilitated by the University of Hawaii Research Organization (UHERO)) to assess the state of Hawaii's economy and to forecast its course, and Jim Roumasset's projects on invasive species and efficient use of water resources. With several junior and senior faculty members engaged in preparation of new grant applications, the Department may be approaching its goal of providing full support to all first-year doctoral students entering our program.

Despite the ebbs and flows of budget and staff, there have been some constants. For over three decades, the Department has never wavered from its commitment to provide outstanding service to the Hawaii community. Jim Mak and Sumner La Croix have both won prestigious Clopton Awards, given to the Manoa faculty who best use their professional expertise in the service of the community, and Carl Bonham and Byron Gangnes were the 2007 recipients of the Hung Wo and Elizabeth Lau Ching Foundation Award for Faculty Service to the Community. Jim Mak and Carl Bonham have served on the State's Council on Revenues, a constitutionally mandated body charged with forecasting state revenues for budget planning purposes. Other faculty members have worked closely with state officials and legislators to analyze bills being heard by committees of the State Legislature. Jerry Russo is the current chair of the executive committee of the faculty senate of the College of Arts & Sciences. The list is long ... we stop here.

The Department's faculty and students have always been aware--since the beginning of the enterprise--that an academic community can only thrive when its participants respect one another and conduct themselves collegially. The foundations of an academic community often seem remarkably durable, that is, until they shatter. The existence of a community in Hawaii that creates, values, and disseminates economic knowledge should never be taken for granted. It requires constant nourishing. With a little more nourishment and moderate good fortune, one can envision a future in which Manoa is known for its astronomers, oceanographers, and, yes, its economists.

Sumner La Croix
March 11, 2007
Honolulu, Hawaii

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