While the world hailed Prof. Thaler’s winning the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics and economists from all schools of thought have weighed in on his incredible contributions to the field, we at ChiBus were more interested in how people right here felt about this momentous occasion. We spoke with people both at the Press conference and in the wider Chicago area to get their reactions.
Reactions at Booth were primarily, and expectedly, positive. “My job is safe for five years. My job is safe for five years”, a newly appointed leader of the school was overheard singing in the corridors to the tune of a famous Stanford parody video. Others in the administration, however, had different worries - “No, that did NOT happen”, Dean Kole irritably said when asked about last years’ Follies’ depiction of how Prof. Thaler met the Nobel Committee.
Several first years were elated, albeit for mercenary reasons. “The second years are all going to overbid for his courses now and that’ll drive down the prices of everything else”, said one first year grinning happily. Her satisfaction was short-lived however, when we pointed out that bidding for his courses (offered only in Fall) were already over. Some just didn’t care. “What is ‘Nudge’? I just came here for the free champagne.”, said one confused first year the Winter Garden, when we asked him for comments.
Finally, some came just looking to learn. “So I need to be a pain in the neck over the next few years to win a Nobel?”, said one assistant professor who paid very close attention to the entire speech and took copious notes. Students too, had much to learn. “Darn, I wish my class was this enthusiastic when I present to them”, said one LEAD Facil, simultaneously admiringly and despondently as the crowd cheered Prof. Thaler’s jokes.
The other school in Chicago:
While Booth celebrated Prof. Thaler’s Nobel, not everyone was as ecstatic. A pall of disappointment had descended in another famous business school. Senior faculty and administrators were seen huddling together on campus as they considered their response to Booth’s marketing onslaught that was likely to follow. Said one senior staff member “It’s not like we had it easy as it is, what with change at the top. Competing with one Nobel laureate on staff was bad enough, I really don’t know how we’re going to deal with two.”
Students, however, were more positive. One second year full-time MBA student we met on campus opined that this would have little effect on his life. “I never understood this fancy economics jazz” he said, when pulled away briefly from his game of flip cup. “Economics is for geeks. Marketing!”, he yelled, to raucous cheers from his group of 20-odd friends, who could not draw a supply-demand curve between them.
Meanwhile, more thoughtful responses also began to emerge at the school. “We have a lot to talk about too. Our new campus is a big selling point and we retain all our traditional strengths. We just need to figure out how to position ourselves better”, said one hopeful faculty member.