University of Rochester

Economist Lionel McKenzie to be Honored by Kyoto University

February 2, 2004

Lionel W. McKenzie, Wilson Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Rochester, will receive an honorary doctoral degree from Kyoto University in Japan on Feb. 3. His work as the architect of general equilibrium theory has attracted worldwide attention in the past 40 years, and his influence in the field of economics is especially strong in Japan.

In 1995, the Japanese Government awarded McKenzie the medal of the Order of the Rising Sun for his distinguished academic and educational contributions, and in 1998 he received an honorary doctorate from Keio University in Tokyo.

“Since the very earliest days of Rochester’s Department of Economics, Professor McKenzie has made the resources of the department available for the education of Japanese students,” said Kazuo Nishimura, a professor at the Institute of Economic Research at Kyoto University and one of McKenzie’s former students. “Rochester’s first Ph.D. in economics was awarded to the late Professor Akira Takayama in the early 1960s; since that time, Rochester has awarded more than 50 doctoral degrees to students from Japan.”

It was in 1957 that McKenzie began building a doctoral program in economics, which emphasized economic theory and mathematical techniques, and a new department within the College. As department chair from then until 1966, he drew in promising scholars who helped him elevate economics at Rochester to international status.

The study of general equilibrium theory, which deals with price formation and the supply of goods and services in a competitive economy, is a major topic of research at Kyoto’s Institute of Economic Research, and will be greatly enhanced with McKenzie’s recent gift of his books and papers. The institute and its Center for the Study of Complex Economic Systems is “actively engaged in developing and extending research along the line of Professor McKenzie’s work,” Nishimura said.

All materials from McKenzie’s Rochester office have been relocated to Kyoto, and will be dedicated as the McKenzie Library during this week’s International Conference on Trade, Growth, and General Equilibrium.

“It makes sense in many ways for his papers to be in Japan,” commented Ronald W. Jones, former chair of economics at Rochester who will deliver a lecture at the conference. “A stellar accomplishment of his 45 years at Rochester was teaching a great group of Japanese students.”

Nishimura said that McKenzie’s honorary degree of Doctor of Economics of Kyoto University acknowledges his “nurturing of a new generation of mathematical economists both at home and abroad.”

McKenzie received his doctorate from Princeton University in 1956, and was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, he has written many articles and books that have helped expand an understanding of international trade and public finance. MIT Press published his most recent volume, Classical General Equilibrium Theory, in 2002.