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July 15, 2019

Faculty of nearly 40 years named University Distinguished Professor

Carl Davidson, a professor of in the Department of Economics, was named a University Distinguished Professor, one of the highest distinctions a Michigan State University faculty member can achieve.

Davidson joined the MSU faculty in 1982 as an assistant professor and was named a full professor in 1991. Over the course of his career, Davidson has achieved worldwide recognition, primarily for his research on questions related to international trade. 

In a series of influential papers, Davidson worked with coauthors to develop a theoretical framework for analyzing how changes in trade policy, such as the increase or removal of a tariff, would affect the welfare of workers as the policy caused some sectors of the economy to grow and others to shrink. The ideas and analytical models developed in these papers still help to guide economic research into issues related to globalization and international trade.

In addition to his continuing research work on the theoretical analysis of international trade, Davidson has made important contributions to labor economics and to the study of the behavior of industries dominated by a few large firms. 

Beyond research contributions, Davidson has excelled as a teacher for both undergraduate and graduate students, and he has mentored dozens of graduate-level students. In 2004, he received an award from the Eli Broad College of Business for his contributions to teaching MBAs. In the same year, he earned MSU’s Distinguished Faculty Award in recognition of his excellent record as both a teacher and a researcher.  

From 2006 to 2015, Davidson served as Chair of the Department of Economics, during which time he developed several programs and initiatives to expand the resources available to the department and to improve the undergraduate experience for the growing number of economics majors. His leadership style helped create an environment in which decisions were made in a fair and transparent fashion, which helped to maintain a high level of satisfaction among the faculty. 

“For nearly four decades at MSU, Carl has been an innovative and influential scholar, a dedicated teacher, and an effective leader for the department, college and university,” said Tim Vogelsang, the current chair of the Department of Economics. “This is a well-deserved and well-earned honor for Carl, and the department is fortunate to have him.”

Davidson is the fourth University Distinguished Professor in economics, joining Professors Jay Pil Choi, Peter Schmidt and Jeff Wooldridge.

By: Dean Olson