Alumni Association Names Peter Boettke Faculty Member of the Year

Posted: May 20, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Colleen Kearney Rich

Peter Boettke
Peter Boettke
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If there were an MVP award in academia, Mason economist and alumnus Peter J. Boettke would surely win it if his colleagues and students had anything to say about it.

Instead, they decided to nominate him for Faculty Member of the Year.

An avid basketball fan and long-time youth basketball coach, Boettke is known for mentoring and getting to know his students.

“Professor Boettke has a rare gift in terms of getting students excited — and getting students to want to devote their lives to the study of economics,” says one such student, Edward Peter Stringham, MA Economics ’02, who now teaches economics at Trinity College in Connecticut.

“Many of our finest graduate students were here through [Boettke’s] efforts,” says Richard Wagner, Harris Professor of Economics at Mason. “He takes pride in the achievements of his former students.”

Oftentimes, Boettke continues to mentor his former students as alumni.

“I was very fortunate when I was a student [at Mason],” says Boettke, who earned both an MA and PhD in economics from Mason. “I worked with a man named Don Lavoie, who was a professor here for many years and unfortunately passed away at a young age. Basically he was a role model in terms of what I wanted to do when I became a professor.”

The fact that it was his former students who nominated him for the award made the recognition especially meaningful for Boettke.

“I was absolutely elated,” he says. “Mason economics is a special place, and working with the great PhD students that come from all over the world to study here is a source of great professional satisfaction and personal joy.”

Boettke, who is the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism as well as a University Professor, the highest academic rank at Mason, also serves as vice president for research at the Mercatus Center and is deputy director of the James M. Buchanan Center for Political Economy.

He has written a number of books, including “Why Perestroika Failed: The Economics and Politics of Social Transformation” and “Calculation and Coordination: Essays on Socialism and Transitional Political Economy.”

In 1998, he became editor of the Review of Austrian Economics and has served as director of the Advance Summer Seminar in Austrian Economics since the mid-1990s.

More recently he became faculty director of the Global Prosperity Initiative, a part of Mercatus’ Social Change Project.

In the course of a year, Boettke usually mentors two PhD students. This year was unusual because four PhD students whose dissertation committees he was chairing completed their degrees. At present, Boettke is chairing five dissertation committees in various stages of the process.

“Working with these PhD students is perhaps the most important work I do,” he says. “It is a real joy to see them succeed in their studies and then embark on their own academic careers.

“My students are primarily focused on becoming academics, and we have been fortunate to see them achieve that goal and develop their own careers in publishing and teaching in academia. Many of these students have started their own research centers at their new university modeled on the program at Mason.”

“My entire career at Mason has been very charmed,” adds Boettke. “I have to pinch myself that I am here. This is home for me.”

Boettke was recognized in April at the Celebration of Distinction held annually by the George Mason University Alumni Association, which sponsors the award.

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