Colleagues and Classmates
When Andrew Metrick joined the Yale SOM faculty this last year after teaching at Wharton for eight years, he also rejoined two colleagues he’s known for twenty years, since they were all undergraduates at Yale: Professors Fiona Scott Morton and Judith Chevalier.
In their freshman year at Yale, the three were students in one of those microeconomics courses so enormous they could be forgiven for not noticing one another. It wasn’t until the following year, when the trio enrolled in Honors Macroeconomics, that they noticed each other for the first time. “Fiona and Judy were the top students in the class — they were great at math,” said Metrick, a professor of finance.
“I was never any good at macro,” replied Scott Morton, a professor of economics and the associate dean for faculty development.
“Well, none of us became macroeconomists,” added Chevalier, William S. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Economics and Yale deputy provost for faculty development. “At least the class gave us the chance to get to know each other.”
Over the years, the three have remained in touch, and have even worked together, as they built their careers. By the time they were seniors at Yale, all three had decided to pursue PhD degrees in economics. Chevalier and Scott Morton went to MIT, while Metrick landed nearby at Harvard. Throughout their studies, they remained supportive of each other.
“At the time we were all doing really different things,” Metrick said. “Judy was pursuing a finance angle, while Fiona was a straight industrial organization person. I was doing some crazy stuff. Now we’re all doing more similar topics. But there was never any competition between us. We were always colleagues.”
After graduation, the three went in separate directions. Metrick stayed at Harvard, while Scott Morton took a position at Stanford, and Chevalier was recruited by the University of Chicago. “Actually Judy and Andrew were briefly at Harvard together,” said Scott Morton.
“I finished a year before them,” Chevalier explained. “So I was a faculty member at Harvard and Andrew was a lowly graduate student.”
“I had to shine her shoes,” Metrick joked.
Even though the three were spread across the country, they bounced ideas off each other about their research and often met at conferences. Scott Morton joined Chevalier on the faculty at Chicago. Through the 1990s, they built their reputations as scholars and teachers. Scott Morton joined the SOM faculty in 1999, followed by Chevalier two years later. In 2007, Scott Morton, who has become an expert in competitive strategy, received the Yale SOM Alumni Association Teaching Award, an honor which is given to one professor each year. She said she was drawn to SOM because of its strong industrial organization group, as well as fond memories of Yale and New Haven. Chevalier, who grew up in nearby Hamden, was heavily recruited from Chicago, where she’d established a reputation as a top young economist. The two friends recently published a paper together analyzing the effect on the price of caskets and funeral services when states lift regulations on who can enter the market.
When Metrick’s name came up in conversations about possible new hires over the last couple years, Scott Morton and Chevalier jumped at the chance to help recruit him. By that time, Metrick was specializing in finance at Wharton, where he had earned a strong reputation for his work on venture capital and was twice honored as the best teacher at the school. Metrick said he was thrilled at the prospect of returning to Yale.
“There’s no doubt having Judy and Fiona here played a role in my decision to join the faculty,” Metrick said. “It’s fun to be at a place that’s on the rise. This is a really exciting school, with very good people, and it’s becoming a more fantastic place all the time. I was really impressed by the leadership at SOM and the direction they’re taking the school.”
There is another benefit to being back at Yale. All three have growing families, but Metrick’s children are younger than Chevalier’s and Scott Morton’s. “The nice thing is that their oldest children are the perfect age to babysit my children,” he said.
“Well it’s a little too early for that,” Chevalier said. “Our oldest ones are only ten.”
“Yeah, but pretty soon,” Metrick said. “They can babysit when they’re twelve.”
“We’ll see,” Scott Morton said.