Tag: Lawrence Economics

Briggs 2nd: Riker’s Island?

We previously told you about The Chaney Tapes — a chronicle of emeritus Professor William A. Chaney’s time at Lawrence. Among the things of interest to us is his particular his affection for some of the LU economists, and today we give you a quote on William McConagha:

“I would say that, of all the faculty I have known in my half century here, Dr. McConagha was the most beloved. A very gentle but firm-minded man. A real gentleman and scholar — soft-spoken but a ramrod when it came to integrity. He made the first public denunciation of Senator Joseph McCarthy in Appleton, not exactly the popular thing to do. He gave a public lecture in which, among other things, he simply told the McCarthy record, how McCarthy had accepted Communist support when he was running in Milwaukee. He told the facts of McCarthy’s record and talked about principles, about integrity. He was the first person to do that on campus.”

McConagha won the University Teaching Award in 1960, two years before it went to legendary political economist, William Riker.   Wow.

In that same year, Riker published The Theory of Political Coalitions and left Lawrence (College) to become head of the political science department at the University of Rochester:

WILLIAM RIKER WAS A visionary scholar, institution builder, and intellect who developed methods for applying mathematical reasoning to the study of politics. By introducing the precepts of game theory and social choice theory to political science he constructed a theoretical base for political analysis. This theoretical foundation, which he called “positive political theory,” proved crucial in the development of political theories based on axiomatic logic and amenable to predictive tests and experimental, historical, and statistical verification. Through his research, writing, and teaching he transformed important parts of political studies from civics and wisdom to science. Positive political theory now is a mainstream approach to political science. In no small measure this is because of Riker’s research. It is also a consequence of his superb teaching–he trained and influenced many students and colleagues who, in turn, helped spread the approach to universities beyond his intellectual home at the University of Rochester.

You can check out Professor Riker’s photo and short bio in the Government Department’s display case.  I believe he has had some influence on at least one of our colleagues in Government (note where he earned his Ph.D.). My own dissertation advisor cites Riker as one of his intellectual heroes.

That’s quite a legacy.

“Hanging is too good for them”

Professor Galambos points us to The Chaney Tapes — a chronicle of legendary Professor William A. Chaney’s life and times here at Lawrence.  Of particular interest to this blog is the very high profile of Lawrence economists.  Here’s a taste of Professor M.M. Bober:

Some of Professor Chaney’s fondest memories are of his faculty colleagues in the 1950s and 1960s. M. M. Bober, professor of economics, is a particular favorite. His witticisms provide Chaney, himself the master of anecdotal enlightenment, with endless tales.

When discussing an art history professor’s latest attempts at painting, Professor Bober is reported to have said, “Hanging is too good for them”…

Bober’s sharp commentaries even warranted national attention when Time magazine published some of his more notable lines in a review of the retirement of several of academia’s greats in 1957: “If God were half as good to us as we are to Him, we’d be living in paradise,” “Businessmen have as much competition as they cannot get rid of,” and “When you leave this room I want you to feel that you have learned something. Don’t go out and just develop a personality.”

Hanging is too good for them.  I’m going to use that one.