Newprofessorship honors economist and commentator Thomas Sowell

Bates College has announced the creation of a new professorship in honor of Thomas Sowell, the economist, writer and commentator called America’s “most valuable public intellectual” for his challenge to orthodox thought across the spectrum of society.

The endowed Thomas Sowell Professorship in Economics was made possible though a gift from Bates College trustee and alumnus Joseph T. Willett of the class of 1973 and his wife, Janice. The professorship will bring visiting scholars to Bates for a semester at a time.

“The relentless search for the truth and the courage to express it despite its occasional unpopularity distinguishes Thomas Sowell,” Joseph Willett said as the professorship was dedicated at the college recently. “Sowell’s writing reveals a great and real compassion for people – but one rooted in facts, not merely lofty sentiments.”

Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow in Public Policy at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

“It is a special source of personal gratification that this is all being done at a leading liberal arts college, for these colleges represent, to me, the finest in American higher education,” Sowell said in acknowledging the professorship named in his honor.

Bates College President Donald W. Harward said that establishing the Sowell professorship “will reinforce Bates’ centrality in defining and expressing the value and character of a liberal education, and will take to a new level the college’s quality and commitment to the exchange of ideas and perspectives.”

The economics faculty at Bates College combines a deep commitment to teaching undergraduates with active careers in scholarship. A recent Journal of Economic Education article on economics departments at liberal arts colleges ranked Bates second in the nation on faculty members’ production of high quality scholarly work.

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