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To: Yale Community
From: Richard C. Levin
Posted Date: Jan 14, 2013 10:44:16 am
Summary:  Announcement - Provost
Last Updated: Jan 14, 2013 04:27:40 am Message ID: 87273

January 14, 2013

To the Yale community:

It gives me great pleasure to announce, in accordance with the recommendation of President-elect Peter Salovey, the appointment, effective today, of Benjamin Polak, William C. Brainard Professor and Chair of Economics and Professor of Management, as the next Provost of the University.

Professor Polak, who joined the Yale faculty in 1994, has made important scholarly contributions in the fields of decision theory, game theory and economic history. He is a brilliant teacher who has been awarded prizes in Yale College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He received the William Clyde DeVane Medal for undergraduate teaching and scholarship in Yale College in 2005, and the Lex Hixon ’63 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences in Yale College in 2006. In 1998 Professor Polak won both the Graduate Teaching Prize and the Graduate Advising Prize in the Department of Economics, and he was honored again with the Graduate Teaching Prize in 2005. His undergraduate course on game theory was recorded in 2007 and is among the most popular of our Open Yale Courses.

Professor Polak was appointed as the inaugural William C. Brainard Professor of Economics in 2008, and two years later he was appointed chair of the Department of Economics. As chair, he is admired by all for his leadership, strategic thinking, warmth, and approachable style. An astute and vital member of the University Budget Committee for the past several years, Professor Polak has a deep and penetrating grasp of the University’s budgetary and financial condition, and he has made important contributions to our thinking about these matters. He also has served on the executive committees of the MacMillan Center and ISPS, and he has been a Fellow of the Whitney Humanities Center and a visitor at the Yale Law School.

A dual citizen of the United States and United Kingdom, Professor Polak received his BA in economics with first class honors from Cambridge University. During his studies there, he received the Trinity College Van Heyden de Lancey Prize and the Cambridge University Wrenbury Prize for Economics. He then came to the United States and earned an MA in history from Northwestern University (1986) and continued on to Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. in economics in 1992. 

Professor Polak is married to Stefanie Markovits ‘94BA, ‘01Ph.D., a professor in Yale’s Department of English Language and Literature whose primary interest is in the literature of the nineteenth century. His brother-in-law is Daniel Markovits, the Guido Calabresi Professor of Law at Yale Law School, who graduated from Yale College (‘91BA) and the Law School (’00). Ben Polak and Stefanie Markovits have three children ages 9, 7, and 1.

The appointment of Professor Polak as Provost will allow Peter Salovey to focus on preparing for his next assignment as President of the University, the role that he assumes on June 30.

Professor Polak will be an invaluable strategic partner to our new President, a strong advocate for excellence in teaching and research, and a wise, fair, and thoughtful steward of the University’s budgetary resources. President-elect Salovey has made a superb choice, and I am sure that the entire community will join me in congratulating Ben Polak and welcoming him as our new Provost.

Sincerely yours,

Richard C. Levin