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University of Chicago Not Surprised by Latest Nobel Winner With AM-Nobel-Economics, Bjt;

October 15, 1991

University of Chicago Not Surprised by Latest Nobel Winner With AM-Nobel-Economics, Bjt; AM-Nobel-Chicago List

CHICAGO (AP) _ Nobel Prizes are hardly a novelty for University of Chicago economists. When Ronald Coase won the prize Tuesday, he became the 14th Nobel laureate in economics to be associated with the school.

″We’re getting kind of used to it,″ said Professor Merton Miller, last year’s Nobel laureate in economics. ″It means a lot to us because we pride ourselves on scholarship and taking scholarly matters seriously.″

Altogether, scholars associated with the university have won 62 Nobel Prizes in a variety of fields, more than any other American college.

This is a serious place. There’s an old comedy routine about University of Chicago football players politely telling their coach that the line of scrimmage is really a line segment (a geometric term for a finite section of a line).

But the punchline may be that the University of Chicago didn’t even have a football team for 30 years.

″This is what we specialize in, serious scholarship, and I assure you he’s not going to be the last one,″ Miller said, referring to Coase.

Coase, 80, was believed to be staying at his home on the French Riviera and could not be reached for comment. He is a professor emeritus at the law school who still lectures at the university and lives in Chicago for half the year.

Miller and other economists called Coase a pioneer in the field of law and economics and said he has long been considered a likely Nobel candidate.

″The economics profession was not surprised by the award,″ said Steven Shavell, a professor at Harvard University’s law school. ″He’s one of the people who most of us would put on the list.″

″You might almost say that it’s a little excessively delayed,″ said University of Chicago economist George Stigler, who won the prize in 1982.

″He used to say that the one reason he would like to get the prize is so that his friends wouldn’t be disappointed,″ Stigler said.

″He’s a very modest, unassuming man,″ said Douglas Baird, director of the university law school’s program in law and economics, a position Coase held before his retirement in 1981.

″I frankly wasn’t surprised, given that Coase is just a genuinely great man who has revolutionized the study of law and economics and has just been a towering figure for decades,″ Baird said.

Although nine faculty members have won Nobel prizes since 1976, university spokesman Larry Arbeiter said the mood was not blase on the campus some call a brain factory.

″It’s not a surprise around here, but it’s always exciting,″ Arbeiter said. ″People find out pretty quickly.″

Six of the university’s Nobelists in economics were professors when they were awarded the prize. The eight others had a previous connection with the university - as professors, researchers or students.

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