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Kevin Sontheimer

  • Professor Emeritus

Kevin Sontheimer received his doctoral degree in economics from the University of Minnesota in 1969. After holding positions at Virgina Tech and SUNY Buffalo, he joined the Department of Economics at the University of Pittsburgh in 1979, where he remained until his retirement in 2006. His research in microeconomic theory was published in top academic journals including Econometrica, Journal of Economic Theory, and Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, among others.

Kevin had an enormous influence in the history of the department, making transformative contributions with long-lasting impact. Upon arrival at Pitt, he played an influential role on the first search committee for the Mellon Chair in Economics, which led to the hiring of Alvin Roth in 1982. Shortly after, he became department chair, serving in this role a total of 8 years. His first action as chair was to secure 10 lines to hire new faculty, of which 5 were at the senior level. Together with Alvin Roth, Kevin led the recruitment efforts, which over the course of 5 years transformed the department into a nationally recognized program for economics research and graduate education, particularly in experimental economics.

Kevin’s second major success as department chair was to secure a Mellon Foundation grant to found, together with Jan Svenjar and Josef Zieleniec, the Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education (CERGE) at Charles University in Prague in 1991. The center became CERGE-EI in 1992, when it merged with the Economics Institute from the Czech Academy of Sciences. Kevin helped guide CERGE-EI to become a leading modern economics program in Eastern Europe at a time of massive economic transition. Kevin was instrumental in gaining many grants that were channeled through the Economics Department at Pitt to CERGE-EI. After Czechoslovakia split into The Czech and Slovak Republics Kevin also worked with Academia Istropolitana Nova and other institutions in Bratislava, Slovakia, to help them set up economics programs. Kevin was instrumental in obtaining a USAID grant to support Pitt’s involvement in the establishment of the economics program at Comenius University in Bratislava.