Inside Rensselaer
* Noted Economist Receives RAA Phelan Fellows Award

Jeffrey Schanz, assistant vice president for alumni relations, and Iftekhar Hasan, acting dean of the Lally School, presented Thomas Cooley ’65 with the RAA Thomas W. Phelan Fellows Award March 9.

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Noted Economist Receives RAA Phelan Fellows Award

Thomas Cooley ’65, a professor of economics at New York University, was presented with the Rensselaer Alumni Association (RAA) Thomas W. Phelan Fellows Award March 9.

Cooley, the Paganelli-Bull Professor of Economics at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University (NYU) as well as a professor of economics in the NYU Faculty of Arts and Science, gave a lecture titled “Taking the Mystery Out of Executive Compensation” as part of his visit.

“Compensation has been singled out as one of the most important and deeply flawed elements of the incentive system that induced firms to accumulate enormous amounts of risk on their balance sheet,” Cooley said. “In the past two decades, there has been much discussion of executive compensation, many public examples of lavish pay, but no real consensus on the extent of the problem, if indeed there is one. In part, this is because there is a lack of clarity about what the facts are.”

Cooley, who received a bachelor’s degree in management from Rensselaer in 1965, said that the past two decades have witnessed a sharp increase in income inequality in the U.S., unlike anything we have seen since the 1920s. That increase was followed by the global financial crisis of 2007-2009. It is not at all surprising that, in such a climate, executive compensation has come under increased scrutiny.

Cooley is a widely published scholar in the areas of macroeconomic theory, monetary theory and policy, and the financial behavior of firms. He has been a senior adviser and member of the board of managers of Standard & Poor’s since December 2010. He also writes frequent opinion columns for Forbes.com, The Wall Street Journal, and other news media.

Cooley served as dean of the Stern School from 2002 to January 2010. Before joining Stern, he was a professor of economics at the University of Rochester, University of Pennsylvania, and UC Santa Barbara.

Prior to his academic career, Cooley was a systems engineer for IBM Corporation. A research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he is also the former president of the Society for Economic Dynamics, a fellow of the Econometric Society, and holds an honorary doctorate from the Stockholm School of Economics.

The RAA Fellows Award honors those alumni or friends of Rensselaer who, by their achievements in a chosen profession or endeavor or by their service to the Institute, have set an example for Rensselaer men and women to emulate. To date, 146 RAA Fellows Awards have been presented.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 6, April 1, 2011
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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