Economics hires two tenure-track professors

The Economics Department is experiencing what Acting Chair Steve O’Connell calls a “lot of excitement” and a “huge” development, hiring two new tenure-track professors. They will join the department during the next school year.

The first of the two new hires is Erin Todd Bronchetti, who is currently finishing her Ph.D. at Northwestern University in the fields of Public Finance, Labor Economics, and Applied Econometrics. One of her particular areas of interest is the effect of worker disability payments on household consumption and well-being.

The second professor to be joining the department next year is David Huffman, who completed his Ph.D. at Berkeley in 2003 and has since been a researcher at the Institute of Labor Economics in Bonn. In addition to Labor Economics, he is the first specialist in the department in both Behavioral Economics and Experimental Economics.

Bronchetti, who will be joining the department in the fall of 2006, is the result of a search for a professor to fill the gap left by the 2004 death of Bernie Saffran, a highly respected professor who acquired a reputation as the department’s compass over his 37-year career at Swarthmore. The department had waited to fill the position after not being fully satisfied with the results of the search until now.

Huffman, who will be joining the faculty in January of 2008, has been hired in response to enrollment pressures in the department that moved the curriculum-monitoring Council on Educational Policy (CEP) to authorize a second position to be created at the same time as the other hire.

Both were chosen with the help of a committee of Economics Department students, who were highly impressed with Bronchetti and Huffman as candidates. O’Connell was clearly pleased with the two new additions to the Economics Department, saying that it is “not often at all that a department hires two tenure-track professors in one year.”

Neither Bronchetti nor Huffman has been hired as a replacement for Professor Larry Westphal, who is currently on what John Caskey, Chair of the Economics Department, described in November as “a break from teaching for medical reasons.” Offered the opportunity to dispel rumors of Westphal’s departure, O’Connell said that the Economics Department has “every hope that he will be returning as early as the spring semester next year.”

The decision to hire a second professor is solely a result of the CEP’s decision to respond to the constant enrollment pressures the department experiences and is unrelated to Westphal’s leave. Professor Ellen Magenheim, who stepped in to complete the Intermediate Microeconomics course after Westphal’s mid-November announcement that he needed to stop teaching, will be teaching the course, with which Westphal has long been identified, in the fall.


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