Monday, May 05, 2014

Gary Becker: A Great Teacher and a Fierce Intellect

My last meeting with Gary Becker took place in his office on December 2nd 2013.  We met for 15 minutes and he pushed me hard as he questioned whether the paper I would present that afternoon in his Applications Seminar was important.   We went back and forth and the debate continued at the seminar.  Our revised paper (which you can access here) is much improved because of his points.   His criticism was sharp and fair.  On January 12th 2014, he published this blog entry  that is directly related to my paper.  I don't believe that this was a coincidence and I took pride knowing that my paper got this great man thinking about a hard problem.

Gary Becker represents the University of Chicago at its best;  honest, smart and always focused on learning and making progress.  Chicago celebrates competition.  Such competition causes short run pain and discomfort but long run scientific progress.  Becker connected the Chicago generations from its glorious past to its evolving future.  All of my classmates admired him and will deeply miss him.   He was a highly optimistic man and very young at heart.   I will always hear his voice in my head; "Kahn, What's your answer?".

He would pose hard questions in Econ 301 and say to us;  "Why?  Why? Why?"