Sunday, December 4, 2011

Didn't Get Tenure but Got the Nobel Prize

I hadn't realized that Tom Sargent, the co-recipient of this year's Nobel prize in Economic Sciences, with Chris Sims (sorry for shortening their first names but they are colleagues from Computational Economics and the latter even from supercomputing days), did not get tenure at UPenn. UPenn must be smarting a bit from declining him tenure.

The article in today's
New York Times about this great pair of economists, who dazzle with their math and who continue to do research, highlights their cameraderie, work ethic, and a bit of discomfort at all the media attention. It also broke the news (at least to me) that Tom Sargent was denied tenure at the University of Pennsylvania. He then went on to join Chris Sims at the University of Minnesota.

I loved the quote from the Times article: Mr. Sargent says his most important work is spoken “in the beautiful language of math.” (Although he knows it’s not widely understood.)

“The kind of work we do, that real economists do, will never catch on with the public,” he said.

So the moral is: do what you love, and even if you don't get tenure at your first academic institution, you can even get the Nobel prize, like Tom Sargent did.