Giving to the Department of Economics

The Department of Economics is home to one of the largest undergraduate programs on campus. Department faculty members are engaged in research at the forefront of economic theory as well as dedicatedly teaching both undergraduate and graduate classes.

In order to maintain and enhance the quality of the Economics program, financial support is required beyond what is provided by the state of California. Donations made through the Economics Fund for Excellence enable the Department to attract and retain top faculty and students, and support needs among both undergraduate and graduate research and education programs. Donations are strategically distributed according to research, equipment, and travel expenses, and play a significant role in supporting the growth and success of the Department of Economics.

Your donations also support:

  • Endowed Chairs
  • Faculty Fellowships
  • Graduate Student Support Initiatives
  • Infrastructure
  • Undergraduate Student Support Initiatives
  • Research Centers
  • Seminar Series
  • Special Events

The Department is deeply grateful to a long list of donors who have already assisted in our quest for excellence.

How to Make a Donation

Donations can be submitted as a tax-deductible unrestricted gift to the Department online. They may also be submitted as a donation form by mail. Follow the link to make a donation to the Economics Fund for Excellence.

Endowed Chairs

An Endowed Chair provides a senior faculty member (the chairholder) with a permanent stream of funding to conduct research. Research expenditures include graduate student support, funding for lecture programs and conferences, scholarships, laboratory expenses, and others. A Chair is a financial endowment held in perpetuity; the research is funded by the interest it earns. The endowment is sometimes restricted to research in a particular subject area.

At UCSB, the state budget pays the faculty member’s salary, but funds to support research must be raised from other sources. For that reason, endowed chairs are particularly instrumental in our Department’s ability to attract top quality senior scholars.

The Department is grateful to generous donors for the following endowed chairs:

The Aaron and Cherie Raznick Endowed Chair in Economics

The Aaron and Cherie Raznick Endowed Chair in Economics was established through a generous gift from Aaron and Cherie Raznick.

Aaron Raznick was Chairman and CEO of Raznick & Sons, Inc., a successful residential and commercial building firm established by Aaron’s father in 1930. Two of the Raznick’s children, Stephen and Luanne, attended UCSB. Before Aaron’s passing in 2007, he and Cherie were extremely active with the UCSB rowing team, alumni activities, and the UCSB Foundation where Aaron served as a Trustee. Both Aaron and Cherie were named Honorary Alumni in 1988.

The Aaron and Cherie Raznick Endowed Chair supports a Department of Economics faculty position by providing funds that support teaching, public service, research and summer salary. The gift allows UC Santa Barbara to recruit a distinguished scholar who is nationally and internationally recognized for his/her research and teaching, giving visibility to the College of Letters and Science and the Department of Economics.

Current Chairholder, Professor Ted Bergstrom, focuses his research on the relation of Economics and Evolutionary Biology, with special attention to the economics of the family, the evolution of altruism and rivalry between siblings, parent-offspring conflicts, marriage institutions, inheritance, and care for the aged. His research has appeared in major journals, including:

  • “On the Evolution of Altruistic Ethical Rules for Siblings”, American Economic Review, 1995.
  • “Income Prospects and Age of Marriage”, (with Robert Schoeni), Journal of Population Economic, 1996.
  • “Economics in a Family Way”, Journal of Economic Literature, 1996.
  • “A Survey of Theories of the Family” in Handbook of Population Economics, edited by Mark Rosenzweig and Oded Stark, North Holland, 1997.
The Jeff Henley Endowed Chair in Economics

The Jeff Henley Endowed Chair in Economics was established through a generous gift from Jeff and Judy Henley. Henley, a UCSB alumnus, is Chairman of Oracle Corporation, a member of Oracle’s Executive Management Committee, as well as a member of the corporation’s Board of Directors.

Henley was Oracle’s Chief Financial Officer and an Executive Vice President from March 1991 to July 2004. He has also been a member of Oracle’s Board of Directors since June 1995. Prior to joining the firm, Henley served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Pacific Holding Company, a privately held company with diversified interests in manufacturing and real estate; and as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Saga Corporation, a multi-billion-dollar food service company. He also served as Director of Finance at Memorex Corporation in its large storage division and as Controller of International Operations at Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corporation.

The purpose of the Jeff Henley Endowed Chair is to provide support to a faculty position in the Department of Economics. Income from the endowment provides the Chairholder with funds for teaching, public service, research and/or summer salary. Chair appointments are made to distinguished scholars whose research applies concepts of Economics to inform public policy or decision-making in the private sector.

The current Chairholder is Professor Finn Kydland, who was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Economics. The prize, which he shares with Edward C. Prescott of Arizona State University, is for their contribution to dynamic Macroeconomics relating to the time consistency of Economic Policy and the driving forces behind business cycles. Professor Kydland joined the faculty at UCSB on July 1, 2004 and is the director of the Laboratory for Aggregate Economics and Finance. He previously taught at Carnegie Mellon University, where he earned his PhD.

The Maxwell C. and Mary Pellish Chair in Economics

Maxwell C. Pellish served as a valued faculty member in the Department of Economics from September 1957 to June 1973. He also served as a Trustee of the UCSB Foundation from 1977 to 1982. His dedication as a member of the university community, and as a respected teacher and trusted counsellor to hundreds of students, was an inspiration to students and faculty alike. He and his wife Mary were enthusiastic participants in numerous civic engagements. In 1980, Col. Pellish was made a Chancellor’s Lecturer Emeritus by Chancellor Robert A. Huttenback.

The Maxwell C. and Mary Pellish Chair in Economics is made possible by the combination of the Maxwell C. and Mary Pellish Fund (established in 1983) and the proceeds from the sale of Col. Pellish’s home, given through a life estate agreement to the UCSB Foundation in December 1988. In July 1989, the Regent’s Committee on Educational Policy approved the naming of the Chair, and approved its use to support a faculty member in the Economics Department.

Professor Ryan Oprea is currently the holder of the Pellish Chair.

Professor Oprea's research is focused on understanding human behavior. In particular, he uses controlled laboratory experiments to explain Economic Theory and decision-making in complex, dynamic environments. He has also been published in top Economics journals, including American Economic Review, Econometrica, and Review of Economic Studies. 

The Walter J. Mead Chair in Economics

The Walter J. Mead Chair in Economics was established through a generous gift from Emeritus Professor Walter Mead and his wife, Thelma in 2008. A native Oregonian, Walter grew up in Salem and earned his BA and PhD from the University of Oregon in 1948 and 1952 respectively. He was the first University of Oregon student to earn a PhD in Economics. Walter went on to a distinguished 32-year career as a Professor of Economics at UC Santa Barbara, retiring in 1991. In 1993, at its annual conference in Stavanger, Norway, the International Association of Energy Economists lauded him for his “outstanding contributions to the Profession of Energy Economics and its Literature.” Walter was also a past president of the Western Economics Association.

The Mead Chair supports a permanent faculty position in the Department of Economics at UCSB, with the goal of promoting excellence in research in the Department.

Professor Ignacio Esponda is the current Mead Chairholder. Professor Esponda is an economic theorist who specializes in studying learning by people with possibly misspecified models of the world and in integrating Theoretical and Experimental Economics. His work has been published in journals such as Econometrica, the American Economic Review and the RAND Journal of Economics.

The Alec P. Alexander Chair in Economics

The Alec P. Alexander Chair in Economics was established through a generous gift from Emeritus Professor Walter Mead and his wife, Thelma. By naming the Chair for Alec Alexander, Walter and Thelma sought to honor the memory of their colleague in the Department of Economics at UCSB.

Alec served meritoriously in WWII for Greece before emigrating to the United States, where he earned his BA and PhD in Economics at UC, Berkeley. From 1960 until his retirement in 1991, Dr. Alexander was a Professor of Economics at UCSB. During his tenure he authored several books, served as Department Chair, Dean of the College of Letters and Science, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, and Acting Chancellor. He was an instrumental force in the Department of Economics’ development and reputation, and this Chair serves to honor his contributions to the department and the campus.

The Alec P. Alexander Chair supports a permanent faculty position in the Department of Economics at UCSB, with the goal of promoting excellence in research, intellectual leadership, and effective communication skills in the department.

Professor Erik Eyster is the current Alexander Chairholder. Professor Eyster is an Economic Theorist who specializes in studying how possibly incorrect beliefs shape strategic interaction in a wide variety of arenas. His work has been published in journals such as Econometrica, the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Review of Economic Studies.

The Richard F. Aster Jr. Chair in Economics

Richard “Rick” Aster received his BA (1963) and MA (1965) in Economics from UCSB. One of his instructors, Herbert Kay, made a significant impression upon Rick, and they remained lifelong friends. Rick had a long and successful career in investment management, founding the Aster Investment Management Co. in 1977. He is best known for managing the Meridian Funds (launched in 1984), the firm’s first foray into mutual funds, which propelled Rick to the forefront of portfolio managers nationwide.

Rick passed away unexpectedly in early 2012 and his former instructor, Herbert Kay, served as trustee of his estate. This Chair was established in the Spring of 2012 through a generous gift from Rick’s estate. It is intended to support the scholarly and program activities of a prestigious faculty member in the Department of Economics at UCSB.

This Chair is currently vacant.

If you are interested in establishing an Endowed Chair in the Department of Economics, please contact Brian Boyer at +1 805-893-5693 or

Graduate Student Support

Graduate students require research funds for the acquisition of data, dissertation research, conference travel, and more. A key factor to the growing reputation of our PhD program is the generous support of donors.

Tax deductible donations can be made to the Departmental Fund for Graduate Education. This fund supports equipment needs for graduate students, provides graduate summer research stipends on a competitive basis, and provides emergency financial support to high-achieving graduate students in need.