Mercer University President William D. Underwood has announced the appointments of economics icon Arthur B. Laffer Sr. and long-time educator Horace W. Fleming to the positions of Distinguished University Professors. Underwood made the announcement of Laffer as Distinguished University Professor of Economics at the May 17 commencement of the Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics in Atlanta. Fleming’s appointment as Distinguished University Professor of Educational Leadership was announced by the president at the May 10 undergraduate commencement on the Macon campus.
“Dr Laffer stands among the most gifted and influential economists in the world today,” Underwood said. “We are pleased that this extraordinary individual will be joining us at Mercer as a Distinguished University Professor of Economics.
“Dr. Fleming is one of the most respected leaders in higher education, and we are grateful that he will return to Mercer as a Distinguished University Professor of Educational Leadership following a year at the University of South Carolina, where he will serve as a visiting professor of educational leadership and policies.”
Laffer was also awarded the honorary doctor of laws degree from Mercer at the Atlanta commencement. He is the founder and chairman of Laffer Associates, an economic research and consulting firm that provides investment-research services to institutional asset managers. Since its inception in 1979, the firm’s research has focused on the interconnecting macroeconomic, political and demographic changes affecting global financial markets.
Laffer’s economic acumen and influence in triggering a world-wide tax-cutting movement in the 1980s have earned him the distinction in many publications as “The Father of Supply-Side Economics.” Years of experience and success in advising on a governmental level have distinguished Laffer in the business community as well. He currently sits on the board of directors of several public companies and on the board of directors or board of advisors of a number of private companies.Laffer is a founding member of the Congressional Policy Advisory Board, a select group of advisors who assisted in shaping legislative policies for the 105th, 106th and 107th United States Congress. He was a member of President Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board for his two presidential terms.
He has held the title of Distinguished University Professor at Pepperdine University, where he was a member of the board of directors. From 1976 to 1984, he served as the Charles B. Thornton Professor of Business Economics at the University of Southern California. On the faculty at the University of Chicago from 1967 through 1976, he was an associate professor of business economics from 1970 to 1976.
From 1972 to 1977, Laffer was a consultant to Secretary of the Treasury William Simon, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of the Treasury George Shultz. He was the first to hold the title of Chief Economist at the Office of Management and Budget under Shultz from October 1970 to July 1972.
Laffer has received numerous awards for his economic work, including two Graham and Dodd Awards from the Financial Analyst Federation for outstanding feature articles published in the Financial Analysts Journal; the Distinguished Service Award by the National Association of Investment Clubs; the Adam Smith Award for his insights and contributions to the Wealth of Nations; and the Daniel Webster Award for public speaking by the International Platform Association.
Laffer received a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Yale University in 1963 and a master of business administration degree and Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University in 1965 and 1971 respectively.
“Over the past two years I have had the opportunity to visit Mercer’s campuses and get to know the institution and President Underwood quite well,” Laffer said. “I admire its mission and its aspirations. Clearly, it is an institution that is on the move, and I am looking forward to my affiliation with its Stetson School of Business and Economics.”
Fleming, whose academic field is political science, has twice served as a senior officer of the university. From 1992 to 1997 he was executive vice president and provost at Mercer, before being appointed president of the University of Southern Mississippi. He returned to the Mercer administration in 2002 as executive vice president and served as provost from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2008.
Prior to coming to Mercer in 1992, Fleming was executive vice president at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., from 1990 to 1992. He began his teaching career in 1971 as a member of the faculty at Clemson University. During his 19-year tenure at Clemson, he served as president of the faculty senate and was chosen Alumni Master Teacher in 1979 by the Clemson student body. He was also the founding director of the Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs.
Fleming took leave from Clemson from 1980 to 1982 to serve as chief economist for the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate. He also was staff director of the Office of President Pro Tem of the Senate, Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.
A native of Elbert County, Fleming earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Georgia. He received his doctorate in political science from Vanderbilt University. A highly decorated veteran of the U.S. Army, he served as a captain from 1969 to 1970 in Vietnam, earning the Bronze Star and Regimental Cross of Gallantry.
Fleming and his wife, Steve, have two children – Susan, an accountant, and Patrick, an officer in the U.S. Army.
“I am honored to be in the company of Dr. Laffer and others who hold this title,” Fleming said. “After 25 years in university administration, I look forward to returning to the classroom to work with my colleagues on the faculty at Mercer as we prepare our students to be the next generation of leaders in the field of education.
Laffer and Fleming become the fourth and fifth individuals to be named Distinguished University Professors at Mercer. The Honorable Griffin B. Bell, former U.S. Attorney General in the Jimmy Carter administration, was the inaugural honoree in 1983 when he was named a Distinguished Professor of Law. World-renowned violinist and Macon native Robert McDuffie joined the University July 1, 2004, as Distinguished Professor of Music. On July 5, 2007, Mercer announced the appointment of prominent ethicist David P. Gushee to the position of Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics.
About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals — Memorial Health University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.