New CEO of Tippie’s Economics Department seeks to rebuild program

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David J. Cooper, the new executive director of the economics department at Tippie College of Business, will look to simplify the economics major and focus on recruiting.

Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Economics professor and economics department officer David Cooper poses for a portrait on Thursday, November 4, 2021.


The new chair of the economics department at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business is looking to revitalize and restore the program to its former reputation.

The department’s new chief executive, David J. Cooper, said he believes the major overhaul will help address faculty appointments and student enrollment issues.

“Rebuilding the faculty will help make the undergraduate major more attractive,” Cooper said. “Having more people means we can offer a more complete range of electives. [and] offer more exciting things.

Cooper said his position allows him to spend a lot of time building the department. He realizes he is capable of making a big and lasting impact on the UI economics agenda in what could be the last job he ever held, he said. .

“You come to a point where you say – not what is the next mountain to climb, but what is, maybe, the last mountain to climb,” Cooper said. “You start to realize at some point the sand is missing from the hourglass, it’s a big job, and it’s going to take about 10 years to do.”

Thomas Rietz, general manager of the business school’s finance department, headed the search committee that hired Cooper in 2021. Cooper began his position in August.

“He has a great deal of leadership experience that he brings to the job,” said Rietz. “It is also [a] very balanced, calm and rational decision maker.

Rietz said Cooper’s journal of Experimental Economics and his personality made him a great candidate for the job.

“I think he has the backing and backing of the faculty, and he has the opportunity to build confidence as a leader to create a vision for the future of the department that members of the department buy into,” said said Rietz.

Cooper said his vision will begin with an alumni workshop on November 10. The alumni panel was designed to represent the different career paths available to students with an economics degree to attract more students to the major, Cooper said.

“We just wanted it to be diverse,” Cooper said. “You have someone who is a business executive, someone who works for the State Department, someone who is a lawyer.”

Cooper previously worked at Florida State University. His research and teaching focuses on the field of Experimental Economics, an area of ​​behavioral economics that examines how people make decisions and how this relates to economic decision-making.

He said he was brought to UI because of the economics department’s rich history and the pioneering work he did in his field of experimental economics. Cooper said the opportunity to play a significant role in returning the economics department to its former glory was too great to pass up.

“It’s a department with a really great history,” Cooper said. “What I was asked to do, in large part, was to take a leadership role in helping to rebuild the University of Iowa’s economics department, and for me it was just an opportunity. very exciting. “

A big obstacle to the department’s growth has been the confusing and unclear construction of the economics major, Cooper said. He said it can be very confusing how classes fit together on a certain track, or why students should choose one track over another.

Cooper said he found it confusing himself, despite years of experience.

“If you think of an 18-year-old who’s in his first year of college, that must have been very confusing,” Cooper said.

Tippie College of Business Dean Amy Kristof-Brown said Cooper’s academic and administrative background makes him a good fit for the leadership position and his presence adds to the prestige of the program.

She said recruiting workshops like the ones Cooper invests in help demonstrate the different forms a student’s degree can take.

“Economics is a really interesting degree at the University of Iowa,” Kristof-Brown said. “Being an economics student is really open to almost everyone on this campus, and I think it could be a great opportunity for people to take a look. “


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