University departments celebrate a century of teaching

Economics and sociology departments of University of Nevada, Reno recognize their 100th birthday

10/18/2011 - By: Tiffany Moore
Parker-Levitt Elliott Parker, left, serves as the chair of the department of economics at the University of Nevada, Reno and stands with Steven D. Levitt, author of “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything,” which spent two years on The New York Times best-seller list, Levitt was the keynote speaker at the University’s Foundation Banquet last month. This year, the economics and sociology departments celebrate their centennial. Photo by Theresa Danna-Douglas, University of Nevada, Reno.

This year, the University of Nevada, Reno departments of economics and sociology celebrate 100 years of instructing students.

"The 100th anniversary of the Department of Economics and Sociology reveals that despite being separate and distinct, the disciplines of economics and sociology are both social sciences with a common history at the University of Nevada, Reno," Johnson W. Makoba, department of sociology chair and associate professor, said.

In recognition of the anniversary, the departments hosted two speakers. On Aug. 31, behavioral economist Dan Ariely presented "Predictably Irrational," a discussion based on his New York Times bestselling book, "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions." Yuri Okina, one of Japan's leading female economists, presented on campus Sept. 9. On the topic of economics, she discussed the economic challenges of the tsunami, the Fukushima disaster and the future demographic tsunami. In the area of sociology, she spoke on the role of women in Japan.

"The centennial reminds us of how small we were then," said Elliott Parker, professor and chair of the department of economics, "that this department was the sole center for social science in Nevada. From this eventually came not only separate departments, but also the entire College of Business."

The two departments began in 1911 as a single department of economics and sociology under the College of Arts and Science. Eight years later, after World War I, the department presented its first Bachelor of Arts degree in economics.

In 1922, it became the department of economics, business and sociology, and presented its first Bachelor of Science degree in economics in 1924.

The addition of business to the department led to the inception of the College of Business in 1956, and the subsequent split of the department, with economics falling under the College of Business and sociology under the College of Liberal Arts.

Today, both departments offer graduate degrees, as well as undergraduate degrees.

"What excites me about the Department Centennial is the reminder of our history," Parker said. "That we have been producing economics majors for Nevada for longer than a lifespan. I have been here for almost two decades, but so many decades preceded me, and we have many alumni of all ages spread out across the region."


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