For EPIC Director, A Sweet Homecoming at UChicago

Michael Greenstone may seem like the new kid on the block, but his roots at the University of Chicago run deep. The newly minted Milton Friedman Professor of Economics and director of the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago (EPIC) is the third generation in his family to teach at the University.

Greenstone’s father, J. David Greenstone, was a beloved chair of the political science department. He received the Quantrell Award, the College’s highest honor for teaching, and headed the Greenstone Committee, which played a major role in revitalizing the College and its Core curriculum.

Even David Greenstone had a legacy to live up to at the University. His mother-in-law, Erika Fromm, joined the faculty in 1961. She became one of the world’s leading figures in clinical psychology and hypnosis. In addition, Greenstone’s mother, Joan Fromm Greenstone, received her undergraduate degree from the College in 1962 and completed her graduate work at the School of Social Service Administration (AM’65,PhD’84).

“The University of Chicago played a central role in the lives of my family members. It nurtured all of them – allowing my father, a young man from modest Rochester, New York, origins to become an intellectual; helping my grandmother, an escapee from Nazi Germany, achieve great professional success and break down gender barriers; and providing my mother, an idealistic woman, the training to pursue change in the world,” Greenstone says. “It’s an honor to serve an institution that has been a home for my family in so many ways over the last 50 years, and to help it carry on its grand tradition of research and training.”

Greenstone himself is no stranger to the University. He graduated from the Laboratory School and returned to start his teaching career as an assistant professor of economics from 2000 to 2003.

So what has Greenstone been doing since his UChicago days? While teaching in the economics department at MIT, he concurrently served on the EPA Science Advisory Board’s Environmental Economics Advisory Committee. In 2009, he took a leave of absence from MIT to serve as the chief economist for the Obama administration’s Council of Economic Advisors. Greenstone later directed the Hamilton Project, an economic policy group at the Brookings Institution. Additionally,he is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and editor of The Journal of Political Economy.

“Greenstone is one of the very best environmental economists, brimming with creativity and imagination,” said his colleague Cass Sunstein, a Harvard Law School professor and former UChicago Law School faculty member.

Greenstone looks forward to continuing his research into the costs and benefits of energy and environmental policies through his joint appointment at Chicago Harris and the Social Sciences Division, and through his position at EPIC. “My hope is that EPIC will become a model for how to develop the best ideas and help them influence policy around the world,” Greenstone says. “In the coming months and years, we’ll need help and support from our partners throughout campus and beyond to transform this vision into reality.” 

Victoria Ekstrom High


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