UCI Woos, Wins 2 Top Scholars for Faculty Posts

Times Staff Writers

UC Irvine has wooed two prominent scholars away from prestigious universities in the past two days, part of an effort to attract prominent professors from around the country.

Harvard psychology professor R. Duncan Luce and Dennis Aigner, the former chair of the economics department at USC, will join the UC Irvine faculty this fall, university officials said Friday.

With nearly $100 million in construction under way at UCI this year, the university's administration is trying to attract the country's highest-qualified faculty to fill the new facilities, said John Miltner, vice chancellor of university advancement. "This is a concerted effort to reach out to this country's highest quality scholars to work with us during our growth," Miltner said.

Aigner Accepts Position

On Friday, Aigner, prominent for his role in leading USC's economics department from near obscurity to one of the top 20 in the nation, accepted the position of dean at the UCI Graduate School of Management.

Aigner, a specialist in the study of peak-hour pricing for utility companies, will begin his five-year position Sept. 1. He will head a full-time professorial staff of 30 and will teach several economics courses, Miltner said.

Aigner chaired USC's economics department for nine years. He taught for 10 years at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and five years at the University of Illinois before going to USC.

Miltner said Aigner was chosen from a field of more than 200 applicants nationwide and received "wide support from the faculty," who participated in the selection process.

Aigner said in an interview that he hopes to build up the UCI economics department by attracting more "top-notch faculty members" to go with the new building under construction at the school. With extra funds and a "little luck," UCI has the potential for having a prominent economics department, Aigner said. "The ingredients are all there," he said. "I am quite excited about it."

Meanwhile, at the School of Social Science, Luce, an internationally known mathematical theorist, will direct a new research institute intended to develop mathematical models to analyze and explain human behavior, especially decision making, UCI spokeswoman Colleen Bentley-Adler said.

As part of UCI's effort to attract prestigious scholars, Luce will be paid $95,000 annually as opposed to $75,500, the top-scale salary for a full professor at UCI, she said.

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