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Nechyba Selected to Direct SSRI
Durham, NC - Duke professor of economics and public policy Thomas Nechyba has been named director of the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI), Provost Peter Lange announced this week.
The institute, one of seven interdisciplinary university institutes at Duke, was created in 2003. S. Philip Morgan, current director of the institute, is leaving his post to begin a term as director of the Carolina Population Center at UNC-Chapel Hill on July 1. Nechyba was chosen following consultations with the social science planning committee, recommendations from the institute faculty, as well as recommendations from all the social science faculty at Duke.
"Tom is an exceptional leader with a vision to take SSRI to its next level, building on the foundation that Phil Morgan has most recently secured," said Susan Roth, vice provost for interdisciplinary studies, who oversees Duke's university institutes.
Nechyba, who has previously served as chair of the economics department, director of EcoTeach (Economics Center of Teaching) and a member of the SSRI Advisory Board, specializes in public finance, fiscal federalism and the economics of education. His research focuses on public policy in relation to disadvantaged families, the function of local governments and primary and secondary education.
"Tom has been an extraordinary leader, teacher and scholar at the university for more than a decade," Provost Peter Lange said. "Under his leadership, SSRI will be poised to increase faculty engagement with ongoing and new collaborative research and solidify support for teaching and research and the presence of SSRI across campus."
The institute supports leading research, bringing together teams of scientists broadly representing the social sciences across the university. SSRI is also home to half a dozen affiliates, addressing research questions on race and gender, decision science, globalization, population, networks and policy around children and families.
SSRI administers a series of workshops on research methods in the social sciences, as well as other academic programs for students at all levels.
"The social sciences are a diverse mix of qualitative and quantitative approaches to understanding cultures, social structures and human behavior," said Angela O'Rand, dean of social sciences in Arts & Sciences. "As such, they are well positioned to collaborate with both the humanities and the natural sciences. SSRI provides a context for nurturing these interdisciplinary efforts, and Nechyba will bring his strong leadership skills to expand SSRI's portfolio of interdisciplinary teaching and research."
Said Nechyba: "I am excited about the opportunity for SSRI to play an even more central role in the university's commitment to interdisciplinary research and education as we build on Phil Morgan's successes, continue to strengthen the work of our affiliated centers, form new partnerships with faculty and students, and build a strong presence for SSRI on the West Campus."
In addition to leading SSRI, Nechyba is also co-director with Ken Dodge of the nascent university-wide Initiative on Education and Human Development. Nechyba holds a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. He came to Duke in 1999 from Stanford University and lives in Durham with his wife Stacy and three daughters -- Ellie (age 11), Jenny (age 11) and Katie (age 8).
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