Special Feature: Nobel Prize in Economics

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The Champagne Keeps Flowing

October 25, 2010 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel
Video produced by Matt Paolelli

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The champagne has been flowing, literally as well as figuratively, from almost the moment that Dale T. Mortensen learned that he, with two colleagues, won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Economics.

A reception hosted by the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences on Monday was just one of the events letting Mortensen, the Ida C. Cook Professor of Economics, know how proud Northwestern is to call him its own.

President Morton Schapiro, Provost Daniel Linzer, President Emeritus Henry Bienen, Weinberg Dean Sarah Mangelsdorf, the Nobel laureate's colleagues and one of his grandchildren sang Mortensen’s praises with much humor and wit. They had a lot of fun talking about Mortensen's search friction or job match research that helps to explain why there are so many people unemployed at the same time as there are a large number of job openings.     

“When I think about Dale’s path from coming to Northwestern in 1965 to a Nobel in 2010, only one thing from his own work makes sense of it all: it must have been a perfect match,” said Janice Eberly, John L. and Helen Kellogg Professor of Finance and chair of the finance department at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

Last Wednesday Mortensen was feted by the economics department at a luncheon, where he opened a bottle of champagne with a sword, recreating a noble tradition dating back to Napoleon. He had performed the same ritual at a restaurant in Denmark Oct. 11, when he first learned about the honor. 

And the Homecoming crowd got a big treat as he, his wife, Beverly, a Northwestern faculty member, and other family members rode in the parade on Friday, smiling effusively and waving to the crowd. During a timeout at the football game Saturday, Mortensen and his family walked on the field, where the Northwestern economist gave the crowd an added adrenaline boost during a nail-biting game against Michigan State. And President Schapiro, a fellow economist, joined Mortensen on the field, giving him a football jersey with the number one.

A video presented at the economics department luncheon perhaps said it all, featuring the Northwestern fight song with a Mortensen twist. Mortensen’s wife led the “Go U Northwestern” song, and the video showed a variety of students and faculty members from various parts of campus chanting – or, in the case of the library, whispering -- “Go Mortensen, Go!”

Another clip played at the luncheon shared an intimate moment with the crowd of 200, showing Mortensen calling home from Denmark to tell his wife that he had won the award. What did he do after that? True to scholarly form, he went to the lecture he had planned to go to before all the hoopla, the one where a colleague from the United States talked about work related to the data Mortensen has been studying in Denmark.

In fact, after the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences celebration Monday, Mortensen flew back to Denmark to be honored by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark for his work as a Niels Bohr Visiting Professor at the School of Economics and Management, Aarhus University. So many honors, so little time. “Go Mortensen, Go!”

Topics: People