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Chief World Bank Economist Honored by Fordham


Fordham University honored Justin Yifu Lin, Ph.D., chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank, at a twilight reception at the Hay-Adams Rooftop on Tuesday, Sept. 16, in Washington, D.C.

University trustees, administrators, deans and more than 100 guests, including prominent Fordham alumni and members of the World Bank staff feted Lin and his wife, Yunying Chen, Ph.D., who is also a noted economist.

Lin said he was touched by the reception, which he called one of life's unexpected events. He said the occasion made him think about the meaning of life, and that the first thing that came to mind was love.

What gives life meaning is “the love I receive and the love I give,” Lin said, referring especially to his long marriage. “The love I get from my wife allowed me to love my work.”

In introducing Lin, Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., senior vice president/chief academic officer, praised the World Bank economist's key role in founding Fordham's Beijing International MBA Program (BiMBA), and quoted an economist who said of Lin that “his intellectual portfolio is perfectly hedged.” BiMBA, the first foreign MBA degree program in Beijing ever to be approved by the Chinese government, was created in 1998 by Peking University and a consortium of 26 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States.

Lin was named to the World Bank position in June 2008, after serving for 15 years as professor and founding director of the China Centre for Economic Research (CCER) at Peking University. He received his doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago in 1986 and is the author of 16 books, including The China Miracle: Development Strategy and Economic Reform (The Chinese University Press, June 2003), which has been published in seven languages, and State-owned Enterprise Reform in China, which is available in Chinese, Japanese and English.

Among his many public roles in China, Lin served as a deputy of China's People's Congress and vice chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce. He was twice awarded the Sun Yefang Prize, the highest honor for economists in China, among numerous other honors and awards.

The World Bank's chief economist guides its intellectual leadership and plays a key role in shaping the research agenda of the institution. Lin is the first person from a developing country to fill the post, an achievement Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, said was “extraordinarily important for the developing world to see that there is no stranglehold by any one nation on the World Bank.”

John N. Tognino (FCLS '75), chairman of the Fordham Board of Trustees, kicked off the evening's festivities just as dusk was settling over the White House across the street.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, including members assembled with us this evening—Mark Touhey, Brian Conboy and John Wilcha—I would like to congratulate Dr. Lin on his new post as the World Bank chief economist,” Tognino said, calling Lin “a great friend of Fordham.”