Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

September 22, 2005

It’s Official! He’s a Genius!

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:45 pm

One of my professors from graduate school, University of Chicago , is now officially a genius. That is, he’s been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for 2005 by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Since this comes with a rather large amount of money, no duties, and no strings attached — and since you can’t apply for it; they have to come to you — it’s unofficially known as a “Genius Grant.” So Professor Murphy is now unofficially, officially, a genius.

Of course, any of us who were in his class or who saw him in seminars knew he’s actually a genius anyway. He went to college at UCLA, got his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago economics department, and then got hired by the University of Chicago business school, which was probably just a way of keeping him at Chicago without violating the tradition of departmens not hiring their own Ph.D. students right away. The joke at Chicago is that his one-line biography should read, “Kevin M. Murphy graduated from UCLA and was admitted to the Ph.D. program at Chicago as a full professor with tenure.”

Ironically, when Kevin M. Murphy was an undergradate at UCLA, there was another economics major there named Kevin J. Murphy — and Kevin J. Murphy went to Chicago for graduate school also! Kevin J. Murphy preceded Kevin M. Murphy by two years at each place, and is now the E. Morgan Stanley Professor of Business Administration at USC. The joke among students at Chicago was that when Kevin M. Murphy showed up and showed his genius, a professor used to razz Kevin J. Murphy by saying, “Not only are you not the smartest person in the Ph.D. program here, you’re not even the smartest Kevin Murphy in the Ph.D. program here!” I have no idea if the story is true or not, but that’s an insult in the same sense that it’s an insult to tell a basketball player he’s not as good as Michael Jordan. After all, both Kevin Murphys have endowed chairs now.

One Response to “It’s Official! He’s a Genius!”

  1. ollie Says:

    My PhD advisor won one of the 4 one million dollar chairs at UT in the late 1980′s; he solves
    a problem that had been open for 80 years. His best student (from the early 80′s) worked with
    him and is now at UT.

    Me: I was one of his “charity cases”; but hey, at least I was near genius, in one sense. :)

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress