UNR’s New Center for Public Policy Studies

September 22, 2011 at 8:24 am

We were pleased to provide a kick off forum on Tuesday for the University’s new Center for Public Policy Studies. Dr. Brad Schiller announced the $1 Million challenge grant from the Koch Foundation to start an independent center within the University to study the economic effects of public policy. It will focus on the application of theory to practice. “By bringing appropriately experienced faculty to the table and engaging and education the community in public policy, the Center will establish a forum, research environment, and incubator for understanding and evaluating the interactions fo the government decisions and private enterprise.” Brad said this would be the exclusive center in the West and had the potential to reach the level of that at George Mason University. Our advantage, of course, is our greater distance from Washington D.C.!

Kristen Kennedy, Director of Development, explained the challenge grant as a match of the Koch Foundation commitment over a five year period. So if we in Northern Nevada raise commitments for $200,000 a year for the next five years, we will have matched the Koch Foundation and shown the necessary support for the Center. The donation are, of course, tax deductible and can be made in various increments. (The pledge card had increments of Contributor at $500, Supporter at $1000, and Founder’s Club at $4000.) Kristen noted that the pledges would not be called until the challenge was assured.

Jerry O’Driscoll stressed the importance of the Center for our community, state and indeed the region. To the extent we can influence public policy with sound empirical research, we will have a more vibrant, growing economy. There were, as would be expected, several questions about the normative orientation of the Center and its independence from what some perceived to be a biased academic environment. The answers were that good research is good research and ultimately supports the correct theory. To have credibility over the long term the orientation cannot be biased one way or the other. Excellent public policy is the goal.

I urge a strong support of this effort. We at Hayek are fortunate to have five brilliant economists associated with our group; three of those five are from the University. The new Center for Public Policy will only enhance our access to quality research, discussion and debate.