Kristin Butcher Named First Marshall I. Goldman Professor of Economics

May 30, 2012

Through a generous gift from Professor Marshall Goldman and his family, the College established The Marshall I. Goldman Endowed Professorship Fund this year. Income from the fund supports a named faculty member in the Economics Department, who will retain the professorship throughout her or his tenure at Wellesley. The appointment of Kristin Butcher ’86 as the first Marshall I. Goldman Professor was announced at on May 25, 2012, at Commencement.

Afterward, Butcher said, "I am deeply honored and moved to be named the Marshall I. Goldman Professor of Economics. As a class of 1986 alum of the College, I have vivid memories from my student days of Professor Goldman's towering intellect and vibrant presence. As a faculty member at the College, I've come to have an even better understanding of his many lasting contributions to Wellesley, through his scholarship, teaching, and generosity.  I know that the Economics Department, and many generations of students—past, present, and future—are grateful for his dedication to Wellesley, and I could not be more thrilled to hold the Chair named in his honor."       

About Marshall Goldman

Marshall I. Goldman, Kathryn Wasserman Davis Professor of Russian Economics, Emeritus, is an expert on the Russian economy and the economics of high technology. He joined the Wellesley faculty in 1958.

Goldman is a 1952 graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Russian studies and economics from Harvard University in 1956 and 1961, respectively. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1985. He received an honorary degree from the University of Hartford in 2012.

An internationally recognized authority on Russian economics, politics, and environmental policy, Goldman is known for his study and analysis of the careers of Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin. He is the author of more than a dozen books on the former Soviet Union, including The USSR in Crisis: The Failure of an Economic System, and Gorbachev's Challenge: Economic Reform in the Age of High Technology (1987), in which he envisioned the monumental problems that would confront Perestroika and which threw the country into economic and political turmoil. His works also include What Went Wrong with Perestroika: The Rise and Fall of Mikhail Gorbachev (W.W. Norton, 1991), monographs entitled Lost Opportunity: Why Economic Reforms in Russia Have Not Worked (W.W. Norton, 1994) and Lost Opportunity: What Has Made Economic Reform in Russia So Difficult (Norton, 1996), and The Piratization of Russia: Russian Reform Goes Awry (Rutledge, 2003). His most recent book is Petrolstate: Putin, Power, and the New Russia (Oxford University Press, April 2008).

A frequent visitor to the republics of the former Soviet Union, Professor Goldman was present during the August, 1991, coup attempt. He has met with Mikhail Gorbachev, Vladimir Putin, and former presidents George Bush and George W. Bush, and he has continued to meet regularly with business leaders, diplomats, and government officials at the highest levels in both countries.

Dr. Goldman taught American economics to students and general audiences while a Fulbright-Hayes Lecturer at Moscow State University in 1977; in the 1980s he was invited by the U.S. Ambassador to the former Soviet Union to deliver a series of lectures on behalf of the U.S. government. He also has spoken on several invitational tours in China and has lectured throughout Western Europe and Asia.

A consulting editor to the journal Current History, Goldman's expertise has been frequently sought by the media. He has written for such publications as Current History, Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review. His articles have also appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and Science, and he has been a frequent guest on CNN and Good Morning America. He has appeared on The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, Crossfire, Face the Nation, The Today Show, and Nightline. He has written regularly for the Russian newspapers, Moscow News and The Moscow Times, and has been a regular commentator on National Public Radio.

In 1991, Professor Goldman was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been a consultant to the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, The Council on Environmental Quality, the Ford Foundation, and numerous corporations. A director of the Century Bank and Trust Company, the Jamestown Foundation and Trustee of Northeast Investors, Goldman is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Economic Association. Goldman has served as a trustee of the Noble and Greenough School as well as The Commonwealth School of Boston and is past president of the Hillel Council of Greater Boston. He is also past president of the early music group, Boston Baroque. A longtime resident of Wellesley, Mass., Marshall Goldman was an elected member of the Wellesley Town Meeting and also served on the town's Conservation Commission as well as the Incinerator Study Committee.

In 1998, the Wellesley College Alumnae Association awarded him its first Faculty Service Award. He retired from full-time teaching that year, but has continued to teach select courses. Former students from as far back as the Class of 1960 and scores of faculty, family, and friends turned out en masse for the October 10 retirement party and symposium to celebrate Goldman’s long, vibrant, and successful career at Wellesley.

When asked what he liked most about teaching at Wellesley College, he said:

First of all, the students are bright. But the second thing is that it’s fun to watch people absorb ideas that they haven’t thought of before. The teaching of Marx is a good example. I’m not interested in having them become Marxists, but if they should meet a Marxist, I want them to be able to understand where that person is coming from and anticipate the ideas, and see where there are holes in their arguments, where there are flaws….. Wellesley attracts the best students, trains and stimulates then in ways you couldn’t do elsewhere. You just couldn’t ask for brighter students. It’s hard to find a school anywhere that does that as carefully, and as thoughtfully, as Wellesley.

Goldman has also served as associate director of the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard University.

Marshall Goldman and his wife, Merle, a professor emerita of Chinese history at Boston University, are the parents of four children.

About Kristin Butcher

Kristin Butcher received her B.A. in economics from Wellesley College in 1986, graduating magna cum laude and earning the Natalie V. Bolton Prize in Economics. She received an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University.

She has been a professor in the Wellesley College Department of Economics since 2006. Prior to that, she was an assistant professor of economics at Boston College for six years, and worked for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Her research has two main strands: the impact of immigration on the United States and the causes of childhood obesity in this country. She investigates the impact of immigration on labor market outcomes for U.S. natives, as well as the impact of immigration on crime in the United States, and examines links between school policies and children's health. Other research includes evaluating the impact of various higher education programs on student outcomes.

This research, with its reliance on rigorous analyses of data, complements her teaching: “I get to pass along my zeal for econometric techniques when I teach econometrics,” she says. Butcher also teaches introductory microeconomics as well as an upper-level class on economics of immigration, and she organizes the economics research seminar, where the honors students present their theses in progress.