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Mark Duggan

Mark Duggan, an expert on government social programs, is at the helm of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research with the support of two alumni families. PHOTO: Steve Castillo

New Leadership in Economics

Chairs endowed by Jodi and Wayne Cooperman, ’88, and Karen and Vic Trione, ’69, help draw a prominent scholar to campus

Fall 2015

As a former senior economist on President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, and as a longtime East Coaster, economist Mark Duggan has spent much of his career facing Washington, DC. But he always noticed something special whenever colleagues mentioned Stanford.

"The way people's eyes lit up when they talked about their experience at Stanford was incredible," he recalls. "People have a real passion for this place."

So when Duggan, then a Wharton School professor, received a call asking him to consider a faculty position at the Farm—recently touted in the New York Times as a contender for "the center of gravity for economic thought in the United States"—he immediately felt pulled toward Palo Alto.

What's more, he was also being recruited to lead the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), a nonpartisan institute at the university.

"I felt as if I was being asked to join the strongest group of economists on the planet," says Duggan.

He said yes to Stanford, encouraged not only by the stellar reputation of its faculty and students, but also by the financial support provided by the generous donors who endowed the two chairs he holds today. Duggan is now in his second year as the Wayne and Jodi Cooperman Professor of Economics; he took up the reins at SIEPR as the Trione Director this fall.

The Families Behind the Gifts

Duggan says he feels "inspired to work even harder" after meeting the families who created the chairs. "Knowing that there are people who love Stanford, who love economics, who want to make the place even stronger, and who have endowed these chairs—it is a big honor and a big responsibility."

Wayne, '88, and Jodi CoopermanWayne Cooperman, '88, who gave the professorship alongside his wife, Jodi, understands the value of outstanding faculty from his own days on campus as he pursued his economics degree.

"I had great professors," recalls Cooperman, a New Jersey–based hedge fund manager. "If your professors are interesting, you enjoy going to class, you get more involved. The strength of the faculty is a real asset for Stanford."

Already longtime donors, both Wayne and Jodi Cooperman—a former teacher—are strong believers in education. They made the professorship gift in honor of Wayne's 25th reunion.

The Coopermans were delighted to hear about Duggan's recruitment and to have a chance to get to know him over dinner at their home, where their two daughters quizzed the economist on health care policy—Duggan is an expert on large government social programs who worked to help create the Affordable Care Act. He also has been called by Republicans to testify before Congress about Social Security.

"I am glad my family helped Stanford hire Mark," says Cooperman. "I hope he'll be there for a very long time."

Karen and Vic Trione, '69Duggan has also connected with Vic Trione, '69, and his wife, Karen, who endowed the Trione Directorship at SIEPR. For the Triones, the directorship is the culmination of a series of gifts that have supported the study of economics at Stanford. Their earlier gift of a visiting professorship at SIEPR and the economics department has brought other cutting-edge economists to the university and helped the department attract permanent faculty.

Trione, who also advises on priorities for the School of Humanities and Sciences as a member of the volunteer leadership council, has been a longtime admirer of the previous SIEPR director John Shoven, the Charles R. Schwab Professor of Economics. "He guided the institute to worldwide recognition," says Trione, a banker, investor, and vintner. Trione says he looks forward to Duggan's new role at the helm of this institute at the forefront of economic policy.

"Mark brings with him the talent, energy, and inspiration to not only continue John's legacy, but to promote new initiatives," says Trione. "We feel fortunate to be able to support Mark in his endeavors and help SIEPR flourish."

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