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Economics Department Votes For Gopinath's Tenure

By Gautam S. Kumar and Julia L. Ryan, Crimson Staff Writers

The Economics Department voted at an executive committee meeting comprised of tenured faculty on Feb. 9 to nominate Professor Gita Gopinath for tenure. University President Drew G. Faust will make a final decision regarding Gopinath’s tenure after rounds of meetings with faculty members, Economics Chair John Y. Campbell, and other field experts.

The promotion case for Gita is a “very strong one,” Campbell said.  “I have no reason to be concerned, honestly.”

Gopinath works in the field of international macroeconomics. Currently, Kenneth S. Rogoff and Richard N. Cooper are the only professors in the Economics Department who work in this area, according to Campbell.

“We think it is important to have young talent in the area as well,” Campbell said. “Many of the most important, interesting economic questions of the day concern macroeconomics.”

“[Gopinath] straddles both international finance and some macro, and macro is an area where we are not as strong as we could be,” said Economics Professor Claudia Goldin, who is currently on leave.

Campbell praised Gopinath’s ability to move between theory and data analysis, and her strong skills as a teacher.

“She has worked with some of our best Ph.D. students,” Campbell said.  “She is really becoming a professional leader in terms of training economists.”

“She is the complete package,” he added.

Gopinath, who was born in India, was the first woman to leave her town to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

“A lot of people [in Mysore] didn’t have the opportunity that I had,” Gopinath said.  During her undergraduate years at Delhi University, Gopinath decided to join the university’s economics honors program in the midst of India’s financial crisis in the early 1990’s.

“I think that my time [at Harvard] and before has helped me understand [that crisis] better,” Gopinath said.

Gopinath earned masters degrees in economics from the Delhi School of Economics and the University of Washington. She then completed her Ph.D. from Princeton University, writing her doctoral thesis on international capital flow and real interest rates in developing countries. After receiving her Ph.D., she taught at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, before joining Harvard University in 2005.

—Staff writer Gautam S. Kumar can be reached at gkumar@college.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Julia L. Ryan can be reached at jryan@college.harvard.edu.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: May 25, 2010

An earlier version of the Feb. 26 news story "Economics Department Votes For Gopinath's Tenure" incorrectly stated that Professor Gita Gopinath was the first woman to leave her town to pursue a bachelor’s degree. In fact, she was one of the few who had such an opportunity, according to Gopinath.

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