Nobel Prize-winning economist to receive ASU honorary degree


March 13, 2014

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, University Professor at Columbia University, will receive the Doctor of Science honorary degree from Arizona State University at the May 14 undergraduate commencement at Sun Devil Stadium.

Stiglitz, a native of Gary, Ind., is regarded as one of the world’s top authorities on macroeconomics and monetary theory; development economics and trade theory; public and corporate finance; theories of industrial and rural organization; and theories of welfare economics, income and wealth distribution. Joseph Stiglitz Download Full Image

In 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for his analyses of markets with asymmetric information. He was also a lead author of the 1995 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Named one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2011 by Time Magazine, Stiglitz is credited with creating a new branch of economics called “the economics of information,” which explores the consequences of information asymmetries, and pioneers such pivotal concepts as adverse selection and moral hazard, which have now become standard tools not only of theorists, but also of policy analysts. His work has helped explain the circumstances in which markets do not work well and how selective government intervention can improve their performance. In the 1980s, he helped revive interest in the economics of research and development.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, he has played an important role in the creation of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, which seeks to reform the discipline so it is better equipped to find solutions for the great challenges of the 21st century.

Stiglitz has authored a series of highly popular books that have had an enormous influence on global debates surrounding economic issues, including the continued impact of financial market deregulation in the 1990s; globalization; the origins of the Great Recession and policies that would lead to robust recovery; and the cost of the war in Iraq. His most recent book, “The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future,” highlights the United States as having the least equality of opportunity among the world’s advanced countries, and the role politics plays in shaping market forces that affect inequality.

During the Clinton administration, Stiglitz served on the Council of Economic Advisers, first as a member and then as chairman. He was chief economist and senior vice-president of the World Bank from 1997 through 2000, and was asked by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008 to chair the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. He was appointed chair of the Commission of Experts on Reform of the International Financial and Monetary System by the president of the United Nations General Assembly in 2009.

For his contributions to economics and journalism, Stiglitz has been awarded the prestigious Loeb Prize, the European Literary Prize, the Bruno Kreisky Prize for Political Books and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the Econometric Society, and a corresponding fellow of the Royal Society and the British Academy. He has also received decorations from several governments, including Colombia, Ecuador and Korea, and most recently became a member of France's Legion of Honor. He is the current president of the International Economic Association.

A graduate of Amherst College, Stiglitz received his doctoral degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1967. He has taught at Princeton University, Stanford University and MIT in the U.S., and the University of Oxford in Britain. He currently co-chairs Columbia University's Committee on Global Thought, and is the founder and co-president of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at the university.

Media projects manager, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development

Best-selling author Betty Webb to address polygamy for downtown lecture series


March 13, 2014

The journalist responsible for casting a national spotlight on polygamist Warren Jeffs says the practice is alive and well in the state of Arizona, and the man with 78 wives is still calling the shots in prison.

Author Betty Webb will present “Polygamy in Arizona” as part of the spring 2014 Humanities Lecture Series at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus. Hosted by the School of Letters and Sciences, the lecture starts at 6:30 p.m., March 20 at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, room 128, 555 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. portrait of author Betty Webb Download Full Image

The lecture series, now in its sixth year, is open to the general public and is free.

“We are honored to have Betty Webb accept our invitation to talk about the intriguing subject of polygamy,” said Mirna Lattouf, series lecture organizer. “As a human rights issue, this topic is so essential and yet complicated, as it involves families and children. It is our community’s obligation to better understand this issue, as it is at the heart of the human condition.”

The theme for this year’s series is titled “The Human Condition.” In addition to polygamy, subjects explored this semester include the legalization of marijuana, race and human sex trafficking.

Betty Webb was a hard-bitten, tough-as-nails reporter with the East Valley Tribune when she decided to write full-time as an author. Her two prize-winning mystery series – the Lena Jones books and the Gun Zoo series – offer a fully-realized picture of Arizona, from barrios to mountaintop mansions.

Her second book, “Desert Wives,” was reviewed by the New York Times, became a national best-seller and shed light on the ritualistic sexual abuse and widespread welfare fraud committed by Warren Jeffs, the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints in Colorado City, Ariz.

Money talks, according to Webb.

“The sexual abuse of little girls wasn’t going to make a bit of difference to officials, but I knew if I followed the money trail, then people would feel very differently about polygamy, and that’s exactly what happened,” Webb said. “Officials started to look into Warren Jeffs and welfare fraud, and that’s what ultimately brought him down.”

Webb said that during her research in Colorado City, she was followed by local authorities and chased off at gunpoint. Later, when her book came out, she received several death threats and was intimidated by male members of the sect at several book signings.

“I had three polygamist men come to my first few signings in Phoenix, and they would sit in the front row and cross their arms and scowl,” Webb said. “Then they’d follow me out to the car and try to intimidate me. That all stopped when I introduced them to the audience and told them to stand up. They got up and left, and I never saw them again.”

Despite the fact that Jeffs was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in 2007, Webb says he still calls the shots from behind bars.

“Jeffs is allowed a telephone in prison and he delivers his sermons via speakerphone and everybody listens to him in a meeting hall in Colorado City,” Webb said. “He is their Lord and master, and they still follow him.”

Webb will follow the lecture with a signing of "Desert Wives" and a few others from her Lena Jones series.

The lecture series will conclude on April 17 with Dominiqe Roe-Sepowitz’s presentation of “Human Sex Trafficking in Arizona.”

A recording of Webb's lecture can be viewed at http://links.asu.edu/HLS-Polygamy

For more information on the spring 2014 Humanities Lecture Series, call Barbara Lafford at 602-496-0623, or email her at blafford@asu.edu.

Reporter , ASU Now

480-727-5176