Stephen Morris named inaugural Peter A. Diamond Professor of Economics

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The Department of Economics has announced that Stephen Morris is the inaugural Peter A. Diamond Professor in Economics. This professorship was created by a generous gift from economics PhD alumnus C.C. Chen ’63, Sloan ’65, PhD ‘67, of Taipei, Taiwan. Chen, who received MIT degrees from three schools for his studies in the 1960s, has spent five decades as an entrepreneur, primarily in the global shipping industry. He is the founder and group chairman of Wan Hai Lines, one of the world’s largest container shipping lines, which today manages a fleet of 90 vessels.

Chen has been an active supporter of MIT’s economics department and for many years served on its Visiting Committee. In creating the professorship, he wrote, “I am very grateful for my training at MIT, as an undergraduate both in the physics department and school of management, as well as my doctoral training at the economics department. I wanted to support the world-class teaching and research of the faculty at MIT, especially at the economics department, where I received great training from so many first-class teachers.”

This is the third endowed professorship Chen has created at MIT. In 1999, he funded the Morris A. Adelman Professorship in the MIT Sloan School of Management, and in 2003, the Charles P. Kindleberger Professorship of Applied Economics in the economics department. Both honor faculty members who played a key role in his graduate studies.

An enduring connection

The new professorship celebrates Institute Professor Emeritus Peter A. Diamond PhD ’63, an MIT faculty member since 1966. Diamond has made fundamental contributions in economic theory, macroeconomics, and public finance. He received the 2010 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for his pioneering work on search and matching in labor markets.

“MIT was a terrific place to be, both as a student and as a faculty member,” says Diamond. “It is amazing that the department has maintained both dimensions of success for such a long time. I appreciate C.C. Chen’s longstanding support, and in particular his generosity in enhancing and extending my connection with our department.”

Department Head Nancy L. Rose, the current holder of the Charles P. Kindleberger Professorship, expressed the economics department’s deep appreciation of Chen’s support. “C.C. Chen, one of our department’s leading supporters, has provided vital new resources to advance both research and teaching,” Rose says. “His gift celebrates the contributions of one of our most distinguished graduates and faculty members, and also allows us to acknowledge one of our current faculty leaders.”  

Speaking of the new professorship, Melissa Nobles, dean of MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences says, “We are delighted that, through the extraordinary generosity of our long-time friend and alumnus, C.C. Chen, MIT’s renowned economics department has the opportunity to honor one of our Nobelists in perpetuity. The new Peter A. Diamond Professorship not only recognizes the stellar scholarship of Stephen Morris, but will allow the department to support future faculty members as they make important contributions.”
 
Theory and application

Morris, who joined the MIT faculty in 2019 from Princeton University, is an economic theorist. He has made trailblazing contributions to the foundations of game theory and mechanism design, and in the application of global games to problems in macroeconomics and finance. In particular, he has used insights from the theory of global games to model the equilibrium behavior of currency traders who buy and sell these securities with only imperfect information on country attributes and future prospects.

Morris expressed his gratitude on this new appointment, noting that “Peter Diamond is one of my intellectual heroes. His research laid the foundations of an MIT tradition of studying economic theory with tight connections to applied fields. I have always admired this tradition, and since my move to MIT, I have had the pleasure of confirming that it is alive and thriving.”

Morris received his undergraduate degree in mathematics and economics at Cambridge University and his PhD from Yale University. He taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, and most recently Princeton University, before moving to MIT in 2019. Morris served as the president of the Econometric Society in 2019, and he is a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society.

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