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Acclaimed Scholar Named Distinguished Professor in Economics

Shawn Kantor, a prize-winning author and former head of the Department of Economics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has joined the faculty of Florida State University as the L. Charles Hilton Jr. Distinguished Professor of Economic Prosperity and Individual Opportunity.

Kantor’s distinguished professorship was established by the Florida Legislature in 2014 to honor prominent Panama City attorney, contractor, and developer L. Charles Hilton Jr. Then Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) and former legislator Will Weatherford, who was serving at the time as House Speaker, introduced the measure to appropriate recurring annual funding for the position within the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy. Kantor’s professorship is tenured within the economics department. He will also be an affiliate with the college’s DeVoe L. Moore Center for the Study of Critical Issues in Economic Policy and Government.

In the new position within the Department of Economics, Kantor will conduct research on markets and the institutions that play an important role in determining economic prosperity and individual opportunity. He will coordinate regional and national symposia to examine and discuss best practices among the states in achieving these goals. He will also integrate students into a research agenda that will provide the intellectual basis of the policy symposia.

For many years, Kantor has conducted research into how economic, political, and legal institutions influence economic development. His current studies examine the impact that research universities such as Florida State have on regional economic growth.

Kantor’s many published papers have won awards for outstanding writing and rank him as one of the country’s most acclaimed economics scholars. He is the author of the books Property Rights: The Closing of the Open Range in the Postbellum South and A Prelude to the Welfare State: The Origins of Workers’ Compensation (with Price Fishback), which received both the 2000 TIAA-CREF Institute Certificate of Excellence and the Richard Lester Prize for Outstanding Book in Labor Economics and Industrial Relations.

Kantor received his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1991. Prior to his post at Rensselaer, he was a founding faculty member at the University of California, Merced, serving as the chair of a multidisciplinary department in the social sciences.

“We’re so grateful for this legislative initiative enabling us to bring such valuable insights and perspectives to our faculty and students,” noted Mark Isaac, chair of the economics department. Isaac said that in addition to Kantor’s salary and the annual symposium, the funding will also support graduate student research and travel.

Kantor begins his tenure at Florida State in August 2015.