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Jul. 30, 2007

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FAIRFAX, Va., July 30, 2007 - George Mason University today announced that Vernon Smith, 2002 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, is leaving the institution in January, 2008, to join the faculty at Chapman University in Orange, California.

University officials will build on the research initiated by Smith by hiring additional scholars to be part of the Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science (ICES), a research center and laboratory specializing in experimental economics that Smith founded.

Smith, 80, and a team of economists came to Mason in 2001 from the University of Arizona thanks to a $3 million grant from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Of this group, Kevin McCabe and Daniel Houser will remain at Mason to carry on the work of ICES. According to Jack Censer, dean of Mason’s college of humanities and social sciences, the university will be hiring additional researchers to support McCabe and Houser and the center.

“We at Mason are very grateful to the service and contributions to our university that Vernon Smith made in his time with us. Our entire campus was honored to help Vernon celebrate the great tribute he received in 2002 when the international community recognized his ground-breaking work in experimental economics,” says Mason president Alan G. Merten. “We wish Vernon well and know he will continue his outstanding work at Chapman.”

In addition to founding ICES, Smith served as professor of economics and law and as a Fellow at the Mercatus Center. His work in experimental economics was considered revolutionary by many economists and was viewed to be the primary reason for his being awarded the Nobel Prize. It is described as the application of the laboratory method to test the validity of various economic theories and new market mechanisms. Using cash-motivated students, economic experiments create real-world incentives to help create a better understanding of why markets and other exchange systems work the way they do.

In 2002, Smith donated the cash award from the Nobel Prize to the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics, a charitable education and outreach organization that he founded in 1997 to fund research and national and international workshops in experimental economics, and to support graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and visiting scholars at George Mason and other institutions.

Both McCabe and Houser have worked closely with Smith for a number of years and have collaborated with him on a range of projects and articles in professional journals.

McCabe is a member of the board of directors and is a distinguished research scholar for the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics (IFREE). He is also a professor of economics and law at Mason.

Houser is a professor of economics at Mason with a specialty in political economy, emotion and individual differences and experimental statistics and methods.

About George Mason University

George Mason University, located in the heart of Northern Virginia’s technology corridor near Washington, D.C., is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with national distinction in a range of academic fields. With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, information technology, biotechnology and health care, Mason prepares its alumni to succeed in the workforce and meet the needs of the region and the world. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason’s Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Its School of Law is recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 50 law schools in the United States.