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updated: 10/14/2013 3:54 PM

University of Chicago adds to its list of Nobel winners

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  • Lars Peter Hansen, 60, right, and Eugene Fama, 74, left, of the University of Chicago arrive at a news conference Monday in Chicago after being named two of the three winners of the Nobel Prize for Economics.

      Lars Peter Hansen, 60, right, and Eugene Fama, 74, left, of the University of Chicago arrive at a news conference Monday in Chicago after being named two of the three winners of the Nobel Prize for Economics.
    Associated Press

  • Video: Nobel Prize for economics

 
Associated Press

A note to the students of Chicago economist Eugene Fama: Just because your teacher won the Nobel Prize for economics on Monday, that test he's scheduled for Tuesday is still on.

"They paid their money, they're going to get the full pill," said the 74-year-old Fama, who may have chuckled but was absolutely serious.

That's the way they roll at the University of Chicago. Once dubbed the school where "fun comes to die," the U of C will never be included on a list of party schools -- unless the party is for the latest Nobel laureate.

News that Fama and fellow economist Lars P. Hansen won the prize with Yale's Robert Shiller -- bringing the number of winners associated with the campus to 89, a list that also includes President Barack Obama -- triggered a familiar celebration/news conference before a couple hundred students and fellow faculty members.

For the 74-year-old Fama, who arrived at the university in 1960 and has been on the faculty since 1963, it is heady stuff to be at a school where it is about as easy to bump into a Nobel laureate -- there are eight on the faculty, six of whom are in the economics department -- as it would be to run into a football All-American at the University of Alabama.

"How can you do better than having colleagues around you who are at the forefront of everything?" he asked.

Both he and Hansen said the environment at the university goes a long way toward explaining the excellence of the work being done there.

"(University of) Chicago economics is better than most economics (schools) around the country, around the world, in terms of forging connections between fields ...," said Hansen. "This environment here really is something special."

Fama went so far as to suggest his work even suffered in the two years he was abroad, recalling his return armed with 16 papers he'd written while away only to have most of them dismissed as "junk, junk, junk."

"Had I been here, I would have avoided all the `junk junk junk junks,"' he said.

Not surprisingly, both Larsen said Monday would not be all that different from previous Mondays, and that they anxious to get back to class and talk to their students.

Fama demonstrated how serious he was shortly after the news conference. Before the gathering broke up, an announcement was made about a toast with plastic cups that were being passed around. When they raised their cups of Champaign to the two newest Nobel winners, Hansen smiled.

Nobody, however, could spot Fama.

He'd apparently gone back to work.

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