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
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.
Richard C. Levin