Economist Ploberger named Eliot professor

Werner Ploberger, Ph.D., was installed as the first Thomas H. Eliot Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences Oct. 30 in Holmes Lounge.

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton (left) and Werner Ploberger, Ph.D., at the installation ceremony Oct. 30 in Holmes Lounge. Ploberger, the newly appointed Thomas H. Eliot Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences, joined the Department of Economics last year.

“It is a privilege to announce the creation of the Thomas H. Eliot Distinguished Professorship,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “Eliot was an important figure in Washington University’s history. As its 12th chancellor, he led the institution through one of its most challenging periods and contributed to its rise to national prominence.”

Ploberger, who joined the Department of Economics in Arts & Sciences last year, is internationally renowned for his contributions to the fields of econometrics and the theory of estimation. Much of his research is considered pioneering, especially on testing for structural change, and for analyzing testing procedures using a continuum of moment conditions. He helped formulate new criterion for estimating the order of models. With his colleague, Don W.K. Andrews, Ph.D., he has used concepts of modern asymptotic theory to construct optimal tests.

His research has been published in the top scholarly journals in economics, statistics and econometrics and has been included in several books. Ploberger teaches all levels and advises doctoral students.

“Werner’s international reputation is well-earned, and he brings to the Department of Economics a wealth of teaching and research experience,” said Edward S. Macias, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor, dean of Arts & Sciences and the Barbara and David Thomas Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences.

Ploberger’s first teaching position was at the Vienna University of Technology, where he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in applied mathematics. The Austrian native also has taught at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Visiting positions have included the University of Montreal, Monash University in Australia, the University of Dortmund in Germany and Yale University.

Thomas Eliot was the grandson of Harvard University President Charles W. Eliot, distant cousin of the great poet T.S. Eliot and a distant descendent of Washington University co-founder and third chancellor, William Greenleaf Eliot.

The Harvard College and Harvard Law School graduate served a term in Congress in 1940, where he focused on the preservation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” programs, as well as the protection of civil liberties. He helped draft and assist in the passage of the Social Security Act.

During World War II, Eliot held a variety of government positions. Afterward, he became a partner in a Boston law firm but still continued to serve special functions for the state of Massachusetts. He also taught government courses at Harvard and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Eliot joined the WUSTL faculty in 1952 as professor and chair of the political science department. He then served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts (now Arts & Sciences) and as vice chancellor and dean of faculties before being named chancellor in 1962. He retired in 1971 and died in 1991 at age 84.

During his tenure as chancellor, Eliot led the University’s transformation from a mostly commuter school to a university of national prominence and oversaw its emergence as a modern institution of higher education.