Advancement; Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

$2.5M Academic Cornerstone gift to John E. Walker Department of Economics will drive future success and honor past foundation


Clemson University’s John E. Walker Department of Economics has recently received a generous gift of $2.5M from an anonymous donor. This Academic Cornerstone gift supports the Ph.D. program and honors the faculty members who have contributed profoundly in the past. 

The John E. Walker Department of Economics has always aimed to keep close ties with students, faculty members, and alumni. It holds a long history of working closely with both undergraduate and graduate students, mentoring not only through their academic career, but much beyond. 

Propelling the department forward and honoring the past, this gift will be designated towards the fellowships that are named after influential professors: Mike Maloney, Bobby McCormick, John Warner, Robert Tollison, Matt Lindsay and Myles Wallace, who were all paramount in developing the economics department. It will advance the department to reach the next milestone while bringing along the lasting tradition of excellence and top research. 

Mike Maloney joined the Clemson economics department when it was small but deeply intellectual and passionate. His academic capacity was vast, but his passion for his students was just as significant. He helped to create the Economics PhD program at Clemson during his 45-year teaching career, and though he passed away in 2021, his compassionate, determined spirit lives on in all the students he impacted.

Robert “Bobby” McCormick earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics from Clemson before earning his doctorate from Texas A&M. He came back to teach economics at Clemson for decades before serving as the dean of the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business. Now, McCormick does consulting in a number of areas of expertise, including corporate financial affairs, business planning, and development and environmental matters.

John Warner began his career at Clemson’s Department of Economics in 1980, prior to the existence of the PhD program. His continued work with the Department of Defense throughout his career fueled his expertise in labor economics, macroeconomics and economic growth. His scholarship was accompanied by a drive to help students, as evidenced by the 11 thesis or dissertation committees he chaired and the volunteer roles in which he served outside the classroom.

Robert “Bob” Tollison, a native of upstate South Carolina, served as a senior staff economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors early in his career, followed a decade later by his appointment as Director of the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the Federal Trade Commission. During his subsequent time at Clemson as the J. Wilson Newman Professor of Economics, he was known not only for his intellect, but for his easygoing nature and fun demeanor.

Matt Lindsay began his career with the U.S. Air Force before entering the world of academia, and after earning his PhD in Economics, he was selected as a Hoover Institute Fellow to study health care in Britain at the London School of Economics. After teaching at several universities, he landed at Clemson, where he served as a mentor to graduate students and created a community for young scholars for thirty years until his retirement in 2012. He tragically passed away in 2015 after a long battle with cancer.

Myles Wallace came to Clemson in 1980 and spent 27 years teaching in the economics department. His main research interest was applied macroeconomics, where he specialized in empirical testing of the validity of prevailing theories about how the macro economy worked. Rather than teaching high-brow theory, his courses were aimed at teaching students how to use modern statistical methods to get answers to real-world problems.  He was a challenging, but much-loved and respected professor until he passed away in 2016.

Department Chair and Professor of the John E. Walker Department of Economics, Scott Baier, highlighted how the gift encourages top graduate students and faculty’s interest in Clemson. “The funding has helped us attract graduate students who are not only from the U.S. but from across the globe. Currently, we have graduate students from South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Another important thing that it provided is the attraction for faculty members. Faculty want to be where there is a good graduate program. In short, this gift has made Clemson a place where people want to do economics and do it well.” 

Within the cornerstone gift, $1,700,000 will create a new Annual Fellowship in Economics Fund to provide fellowships for students in the Department of Economics; $520,000 will create the Economics Department Faculty Fund for the benefit of the Economics Department faculty and may support salary supplements, graduate assistants, and research; $280,000 will create the Economics Analytics Fund to provide funding for supplies, research and travel. Part of this gift will also be designated towards the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business’ analytics initiative. “It’s going to make a huge difference for our graduate and undergraduate students in learning the business analytics skill that is so critical to them making strategic business decisions based on data,” said Wendy York, Dean of the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business.

“We are thankful for this Cornerstone Gift that honors faculty and leaders who helped make the department, college and Clemson University what they are today,” said President Jim Clements.  “The funding and fellowships made possible through this generous gift will have an immeasurable impact on the study and research of economics for our current and future faculty, staff and students.” 

Driving fiercely forward into success while honoring past accomplishments and leaders in economics, this cornerstone gift will support Clemson in making great strides in research as a Carnegie R1: Doctoral University and accelerate the prominence and reputation of the John E. Walker Department of Economics.

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