Nobel Laureate Robert E. Lucas Jr. to Receive Phoenix Prize

Renee L. Basick, UChicago Social Sciences
Photo Credit: 
Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics

The first recipient in 15 years, economist Robert E. Lucas Jr., BA’59, PhD’64 joins a short, distinguished list of faculty to receive Division’s top award

In recognition of his outstanding, career-long service to the University of Chicago and the enormous influence his work has had on the field of Economics, Robert E. Lucas Jr., will be presented the Phoenix Prize from the Division of the Social Sciences on Friday, October 7, 2016 at a dinner held in his honor.


According to David Nirenberg, Dean of the Division of the Social Sciences, Lucas is renowned for a deep, broad understanding of Chicago Economics that has afforded him the ability to consider its ideas critically and to evolve its traditions in important new directions.  In his letter announcing the award, Nirenberg explains that Lucas "...not only built upon those traditions, but also transformed them to create a modern dynamic economics-one that unites macroeconomics, microeconomics, and econometrics in ways that have allowed for more precise quantitative studies of alternative economic policies." 


As a college and graduate alumnus, and a faculty member here since 1973, his sustained commitment to the University of Chicago and service to the Division of the Social Sciences has been truly exceptional. Nirenberg’s letter commended Lucas for the impact his research and teaching has had on generations of economists at the University and more broadly, across the globe. Nirenberg says Lucas has “been applauded throughout the world” for the creativity with which he “has constructed theoretical models of the economy and…put mathematics at the service of practical economics.”


The Phoenix Award was established in 1994 by former Dean of the Division of the Social Sciences Colin Lucas to constitute the highest faculty recognition the Division could bestow. It is to be awarded only periodically to those who, through the course of their careers, have changed the trajectory of research in the social sciences and have thus contributed to the cycle of intellectual renewal across the disciplines. It is this sense of renewal that is encapsulated in the prize's name, drawn from the symbol of our University. The prize has not been awarded in over a decade. It was most recently bestowed (in 2001) upon fellow Nobel Laureate and University Professor of Economics and of Sociology, Gary Becker, AM'53, PhD'55, (1930-2014). The other recipients have been James Coleman, University Professor in Sociology (1926-1995), in 1994, and Marshall Sahlins, Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and of Social Sciences, in 1998. 


A conference hosted by the Becker Friedman Institute, the Department of Economics, and the Division of the Social Sciences will be held October 7-8, at Saieh Hall for Economics to commemorate Lucas’ receipt of the award. Colleagues from around the country will converge on campus to explore, and celebrate, his life’s work.


The conference is open to the public but registration is required. More information is available here.