IRVINE : UCI Economist Aims for a Global View

Economist and author Richard B. McKenzie, who has been named to UC Irvine’s Walter B. Gerken Chair in Enterprise and Society, said he hopes to bring a more global perspective to students in the university’s Graduate School of Management.

“I see my role as providing students with a broader perspective, to put their role as a manager in a national and international perspective,” said McKenzie, 49, who was lured to UCI last month from the University of Mississippi to be the first scholar to hold the Gerken chair.

McKenzie is a prominent economist whose research focuses on social and public policy issues, such as the safety effects of airline deregulation, global economic forces and the impact that increasing numbers of elderly have on Social Security and Medicare systems. He has written or co-written 16 books, including his latest, “Quicksilver Capital: How the Rapid Movement of Wealth Has Changed the World.”

Dennis Aigner, dean of the Graduate School of Management, said McKenzie’s interest in exploring social issues from an economist’s point of view makes him ideal for the Gerken chair, which was established to promote awareness of social issues and their consequences among future business leaders.


The chair is one of about 15 specially endowed UCI professorships. It was created in 1988 with a $175,000 donation by Walter B. Gerken, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Pacific Mutual, a life insurance company based in Newport Beach.

Subsequent gifts and pledges from Gerken’s friends and colleagues have brought the endowment total to more than $510,000.

McKenzie, who will receive an annual salary of $93,500, can use interest on the endowment to further his research in any way he sees fit for as long as he holds the chair.

He is exploring why contributions to charitable organizations increased significantly during the 1980s, contrary to the popular notion that it was the Decade of Greed.


Besides his research activities, McKenzie will begin teaching four classes a year to graduate students, starting in January, 1992. His first subject will be microeconomics for managers, but he also plans to develop a new course on enterprise and societal issues.

“The course will be about such things as the role of property rights, the U.S. economy, as well as (the economies of) a reconstituted Soviet Union and Eastern Europe,” said McKenzie, who noted that future managers will need to interact extensively with foreign governments at all levels.

“They’ll need to understand the implications of domestic and international policies for their businesses and know how to evaluate those policies,” he said.

McKenzie will live in Irvine with his wife, a free-lance journalist, and their two daughters and two sons, who range in age from 3 to 22.