Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

For the latest information related to COVID-19, visit fsu.edu/coronavirus

David Rasmussen: A Tribute To 50+ Years At FSU

Yesterday we re-posted a story from WFSU about Professor of Economics James Gwartney marking 50 years on the FSU faculty. David Rasmussen, the James Gapinski Professor of Economics and Dean Emeritus of the college, also surpassed the 50-year milestone this year. To mark the occasion and pay tribute to him on his recent retirement, we are updating this article from the 2016 edition of Engage magazine when he stepped down as dean after 13 years of service. We express our gratitude for all he has done for our students, faculty and staff and wish him all the best.

2013 President’s Backyard BBQ at the President’s House.

At right: Dean Emeritus David Rasmussen, doing what he loves best – interacting with students (at the 2013 Freshman barbecue).

David Rasmussen never intended to stay so long.

“Three years and I was gone.” That was his thinking when he first came to FSU as an assistant professor of economics in 1968. “I thought I wanted to teach at a small college in New England. I figured I could move from a Research 1 university to a teaching school but not the other way around.”

We know now, of course, that didn’t happen, and the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, as well as the entire university community, is better for it. In his time at FSU he has held several prominent posts, not the least of which is dean of the college from 2003 until stepping down in May 2016. Previously, he served as director of the Policy Sciences Center and the DeVoe Moore Center.

He has also been a teacher, researcher, and author of much acclaim, as well as a consultant and adviser for federal and international agencies, addressing important public policy questions, among them the economics of inequality, urban and regional economic development, crime and substance abuse policy, and housing economics. But it says much about the man that his proudest accomplishments have to do with students, their experiences on campus and their success in the world beyond.

As dean, David Rasmussen broadened and deepened the college’s commitment to providing undergraduates with extracurricular programs for professional development and academic enhancement. What is now known as our Get More Than a Degree initiative is the result of his great support for and promotion of such valuable opportunities as international study and service; internships and hands-on professional experience; career services and alumni mentorship; student organizations such as Global Peace Exchange (GPE), World Affairs Program (WAP), and discipline-specific groups; and applied/professional master’s degree programs that prepare students for meaningful careers and active roles in public life.

The hallmark of this initiative is the Social Science Scholars program. Established in 2011, the program gives the college’s most outstanding juniors unprecedented opportunities for leadership training and support for research and service projects. The scholars, chosen through a highly competitive process, carry out these projects in developing areas throughout the country and the world.

Rasmussen’s legacy is not limited to initiatives for learning beyond the classroom. Under his administration, the college has also seen the establishment and expansion of such academic programs as the master’s degrees in applied economics and public health (which achieved full accreditation in 2014) and the XS/FS group, bringing scholars from diverse backgrounds together to use experimental methods for research on a wide range of social science topics.

“There is no doubt about the joy in creating and strengthening graduate and undergraduate programs,” he says. “I have really liked being able to support, with the financial contributions of our alumni, student organizations like GPE, WAP, the Monsignor Kerr Intercultural Education and Dialogue Initiative, and the FSU student chapter of the National Association for Business Economics.”

When he stepped down as dean, he had already had a remarkable and rewarding 48 years at the university, but David Rasmussen wasn’t quite done at that time. For the next three years until his full retirement in May 2019, he worked at the college’s Pepper Institute on issues related to the financial well-being of America’s aging population. As for his legacy as dean?

“I hope the assessment of me is that I left the place better than I found it and that subsequent deans continued to build on aspects of initiatives I started.”


“Thanks to Dean Rasmussen and his mission to enable students to ‘get more than a degree,’ I’ve had the opportunity to personally enrich my college experience with the network provided by NABE, and I’ve witnessed many others gain the same access. The dean has always supported professional development in the economics department.” – Kevin Gomez, President of the student chapter of the National Association for Business Economics, 2015-2016

“I have had the pleasure of working with Dave and his team over the past decade as he led the development of a world class international program. His vision for the program and his strategy to achieve that vision is exemplary. I know his legacy will continue for decades to come.” – Tom Culligan, FSU Foundation Board

“Throughout his tenure as dean, David made sure that students both inside and outside the classroom had experiences that propelled them into successful futures. The success of Social Science Scholars, a program I have the privilege of interacting with, has made it a model for other colleges at Florida State University.” – Marjorie Turnbull, former Florida Legislator

“David shepherded the college through the Great Recession of 2007-2009, when many universities and colleges struggled with their finances, closed programs, and cut student financial aid. Because of his brave decision to hold the line on our graduate programs and ride out the difficult period through strategic spending and excellent financial stewardship, the college maintained its enrollments and actually expanded its programs.” – Tim Chapin, COSSPP Dean