Memorial events to honor life and work of Gary Becker

On Oct. 31, the University of Chicago will celebrate the life and work of the late Gary S. Becker, a Nobel laureate who made a profound impact on the study of economics and sociology and on the intellectual life of the University.

Students, faculty and staff are invited to attend a keynote address and memorial service honoring Becker. James J. Heckman, Becker’s friend, colleague and fellow Nobel laureate, will give a keynote address on the impact of his work. The talk by Heckman, the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 31 in Mandel Hall at the Reynolds Club, 5706 South University Ave. The session will also be streamed live.

A memorial service will then be held at 2:30 p.m. in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at 5850 South Woodlawn Ave., followed by a 4 p.m. reception at the Charles M. Harper Center of the Chicago Booth School of Business, 5807 South Woodlawn Ave.

All events are open to the campus community. Those interested in attending can register here.

The keynote and memorial will conclude a two-day academic conference sponsored by the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics, featuring new scholarship and reflections on Becker’s work.

Becker, AM’53, PhD’55, died on May 3 at the age of 83. He was the University Professor of Economics and of Sociology, and chair of the Becker Friedman Institute. One of the most influential economists of the 20th century, Becker won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2007. He taught at the Department of Economics, Department of Sociology and the Chicago Booth School of Business for 46 years.

Becker has been known for making historic changes to the study of economics and the social sciences, and combining disciplines to understand decisions in everyday life, while spawning rich new questions for scholars in diverse fields to pursue.

In May, President Robert J. Zimmer called Becker “a transformational thinker of truly remarkable impact on the world and an extraordinary individual…as a scholar and as a person, he represented the best of what the University of Chicago aspires to be.”

In 2011, the University recognized Becker’s contributions by naming a research institute in honor of him and his mentor, Milton Friedman, also a Nobel-winning economist at UChicago. The Becker Friedman Institute brings together many of the world’s outstanding economists to advance and disseminate innovative research across diverse areas of economic inquiry.