Economist Is First Alumnus Appointed to Gasson Chair

By Stephen Gawlik
Staff Writer

Georgetown University economist Rev. Paul D. McNelis, SJ, '70, has become the first Boston College alumnus to be appointed as the Thomas I. Gasson, SJ, Professor.

A scholar of econometrics, international macroeconomics and finance who has taught at Georgetown since 1977, Fr. McNelis will serve as Gasson Professor for the 2001-02 academic year.

"We are delighted that Fr. McNelis has chosen to join us as our next Gasson Professor," said Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties John J. Neuhauser. "It's nice to have a former student return to Boston College to take an endowed chair. From the University's point of view, you might say it's a mission accomplished."

Fr. McNelis' current research interests include the problems of Latin American economies and Asian financial reform, and forecasting and risk analysis of emerging markets. He recently spent time in Indonesia providing assistance to that nation's banks in developing monetary policy.

Rev. Paul McNelis, SJ

As Gasson Professor, Fr. McNelis will teach primarily in the Economics Department but, according to University administrators, he has the academic credentials to contribute to other departments at BC as well.

"It will be great to have a scholar of Paul's caliber in the Gasson Chair," said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Joseph F. Quinn. "He will be able to contribute a lot to Boston College and it will be an honor to welcome him here."

Fr. McNelis, who served as an adjunct economics professor at BC in the mid-1970s while studying at the Weston School of Theology, said, "It is a really very exciting for me to be returning to Boston College and I am grateful for the opportunity."

"Given his vast experience and his wide range of scholarship he may also contribute to our International Studies Program, Latin American Studies, Finance and our Scientific Computation program," said Economics Department Chairman Assoc. Prof. Peter Ireland.

"Those who know Paul know he's a scholar and a gentleman," said Ireland. "Outside of the classroom I expect that he will spend a lot of time with both undergraduate and graduate students and that will be real a benefit everyone."

Fr. McNelis said he plans to offer a course at BC titled Frontiers of Economic Science and Global Financial Markets, in which students must make and defend arguments - not a simple task in a course that involves considerable mathematical and computational work, he said.

"I think that when students know they will have to defend their positions they learn the material much better," he said. "It forces them to approach problems from all angles."

A native of Hazleton, Pa., and a member of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, Fr. McNelis holds degrees in economics and philosophy from Boston College. He also earned a doctorate in economics in 1974 from Johns Hopkins University and a master of divinity degree from the Weston School of Theology in 1977.


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