Weidenbaum legacy honored with May 20 forum

Murray Weidenbaum shows some economic figures to President Ronald Reagan in 1981 at the White House. During Reagan’s first administration, Weidenbaum became the first chairman of Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Renowned economists will gather Monday, May 20, at the university to pay tribute to Murray Weidenbaum, PhD, founder and honorary chairman of WUSTL’s Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy at Washington University in St. Louis, in a forum highlighting his lifelong accomplishments.

The forum, from 1:30-5:15 p.m. in Simon Hall’s May Auditorium, will begin with a panel discussion on “Current Challenges in Regulation.” The second session will focus on “Today’s Challenges in Macroeconomic Policy.”

After both sessions, speakers and discussants will take questions from the audience.

A highly influential economist and policy adviser, Weidenbaum has a legacy in the academic and governmental realms that began in the early 1960s.

In all, Weidenbaum, the Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor of economics in Arts & Sciences, has served or advised five U.S. presidents, spending much of the time teaching, writing and conducting research. During the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, he served on the U.S. bureau of the budget staff.

After a stint in the business world as the company economist for The Boeing Co., he turned to academia via Stanford University, then Washington University, where he began as an associate professor of economics in 1964.

Two years later, he was named a full professor and chair of the department. During that time, Weidenbaum also directed the NASA Economics Research Program, the department’s largest research project.

He left for Washington, D.C., in 1969 to serve as the first assistant secretary of the treasury for economic policy under President Nixon. In 1971, he was installed as the Mallinckrodt professor at WUSTL.

This straddling of two worlds would become a pattern throughout the 1980s.

During the first Reagan administration, Weidenbaum became the first chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. His dual role as teacher and government policy leader continued through the George H.W. Bush White House, when the president sent him on a special mission to Poland and as a member of the EPA’s Clean Air Advisory Committee.

Throughout his academic life, Weidenbaum continued his keen interest in the impact of government on business, serving on the boards of directors at a variety of companies. In 1975, he founded the Center for the Study of American Business at WUSTL.

In 2001, the center was renamed the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy.

For more information on the tribute forum, including a full list of participants, visit wc.wustl.edu/events/WeidenbaumTributeForum20130520.