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Mason renames two buildings in honor of Nobel Laureates Buchanan and Smith

November 16, 2016   /   by Buzz McClain

The kickoff for the Buchanan-Smith Legacy Campaign for the Future of Masonomics honors the contributions of Nobel Laureates James Buchanan (left) and Vernon Smith.

George Mason University will recognize the legacies of Nobel Prize laureates James M. Buchanan and Vernon L. Smith by renaming buildings in Fairfax and Arlington in their honor in a ceremony on Friday, Nov. 18. Both were affiliated with George Mason at the time of their awards.

Mason Hall on the Fairfax Campus will become James Buchanan Hall. The five-story Metropolitan Building in Arlington will become Vernon Smith Hall. Smith, who turns 90 on Jan. 1, 2017, will be in attendance for the ceremony at Hazel Hall on Mason’s Arlington Campus.The building name changes will go into effect on July 1, 2017. 

“Vernon L. Smith and James M. Buchanan are not only Nobel laureates, they are two of the most important and influential laureates that the Nobel committee has selected,” said Mason’s Tyler Cowen, Holbert L. Harris Chair in economics and general director of the Mercatus Center.

Buchanan, who died in 2013, was awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in 1986 for his contributions to the theory of political decision-making and public economics. Smith won the same prize in 2002 for developing methods for laboratory experiments in economics that help researchers understand economic behavior.

The renaming ceremony also marks the beginning of the Buchanan-Smith Legacy Campaign for the Future of Masonomics. The goal of $15 million by the end of 2017 will benefit students and faculty as Mason continues to impact economic research and education steeped in the Nobel tradition.

While many buildings are named for benefactors, “in the case of Jim Buchanan and Vernon Smith we have a different situation: What they have donated is not their money, but their thought,” said Alex Tabarrok, director of Mason’s Center for Study of Public Choice, which was founded by Buchanan.

“The gift that James Buchanan and Vernon Smith have given us is new ideas, new ways of seeing the world and new tools to understand and to improve the American social compact,” he said.

“Vernon was without question a transformational leader at Mason,” said Daniel Houser, chair of Mason’s Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, which was founded by Smith.

“His scholarly vision continues to inspire students and faculty across multiple fields—including economics, philosophy, psychology, neurosciences and computational sciences—to achieve at the highest level by combining insights from multiple disciplines to make scientific discoveries that consistently expand the boundaries of human knowledge.”

The renaming ceremony will feature remarks by Mason rector Tom Davis, President Ángel Cabrera, dean of Mason’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences Deborah Boehm-Davis, Mercatus board member Richard Fink, and Tabarrok and Houser.