University Opens Free Market Institute

The institute is designed to research and educate students on the benefits of free-market economics.

Benjamin Powell

Benjamin Powell

Funded by a $4 million gift, Texas Tech University officials will announce the opening of the new Free Market Institute designed to research and educate students, the Lubbock community and the nation on the benefits of free-market economics.

The opening begins at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday (March 6) during a reception celebrating the launch of the institute in the McCoy Atrium of the Rawls College of Business.

The new institute will be headed by Benjamin Powell, who is also a senior fellow at the Independent Institute, newspaper columnist and a visiting professor in the Rawls College of Business. He and Robert Lawson, co-author of the Economic Freedom of the World Annual Report, will make remarks during the opening.

Powell said the $4 million came from an anonymous West Texas cattle rancher.

“The reason this donor wanted to fund this institute is because he thinks the country is going down the wrong economic path,” Powell said. “He thought what was needed was more teaching and knowledge of free markets, and he thought Texas Tech University would be a wonderful place to get this started. This institute will promote research on free-market economics and the teaching of that to Texas Tech students, faculty and the Lubbock community, as well as the country.”

Powell was editor of “Making Poor Nations Rich: Entrepreneurship and the Process of Development” and co-editor of “Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis.” He has written more than 50 scholarly articles and policy studies. He primarily studies economic development, Austrian economics and public choice.

His findings have been reported in more than 100 popular press outlets including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, Investor’s Business Daily, the Financial Times (London), the Christian Science Monitor, and many regional outlets. He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows including CNN, MSNBC, Showtime, CNBC and Fox Business’ “Freedom Watch.”

Lawrence Schovanec

Lawrence Schovanec

With Powell, associated faculty at the institute will include Michael Giberson, an instructor of energy commerce at the Rawls College of Business; Eduardo Segarra, chairman of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics; and Charles Long, who will serve as an economist and administrator for the institute. A national search for two more faculty members is underway, Powell said.

Michael San Francisco, interim vice president of research at Texas Tech, said the new institute will be housed under his office.

“Free-market economics represents one component of the spectrum of thinking in economics,” he said. “This area discusses and encourages debate on traditional and non-traditional economic activity and the roles of government and people in society in an economic context.”

Interim President Lawrence Schovanec said that Texas Tech was one of several universities that submitted proposals to house the new Free Market Institute.

“This is a major new initiative that will bring internationally recognized scholars to Texas Tech as permanent additions to our faculty or as distinguished guest lecturers contributing to the activities of the institute,” Schovanec said. “The Free Market Institute also will create new opportunities for collaboration among our current faculty and possibilities for securing new resources that will support both faculty and students.”

Office of Research and Innovation

The Office of Research and Innovation is tasked with facilitating excellence in research, scholarship and creative activity for Texas Tech students, faculty and staff. The office promotes an academic environment embracing creativity, curiosity, innovation, diversity, ethics and integrity.

Among other programs, the OR&I supports responsible and safe conduct of research, faculty development and recognition, interdisciplinary collaborations, externally sponsored research, partnerships with industry and community stakeholders, international research collaboration and the application of research for the benefit of society. The OR&I promotes a culture of creative expression, discovery, innovation and collaboration with the goal of advancing Texas Tech’s status as an elite national research university.


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