Former Chair of the President's Council of Economic Advisers Elected Newest Member of Yale Corporation

Noted economist Janet Yellen, who chaired President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, has joined the Yale Corporation as the newest alumni fellow.

Yellen, the Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor of Business Administration and professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, was elected to Yale’s governing body in balloting by Yale graduates around the world.

She served as Clinton’s chief economist from 1997 to 1999 and was a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 1994 to 1997. Yellen has also served as an adviser to the Congressional Budget Office, the Brookings Panel on Economic Activity and the National Science Foundation’s Panel in Economics. She is currently a research associate of the National Bureau of Economics Research and a member of the advisory board of the Center for International Political Economy.

Yellen’s research in economics has covered a wide range of issues. In the early 1970s, her work gave one of the first explanations for “commodity bundling,” the practice that has played a central role in the anti-trust case against Microsoft. Her work in the 1980s, addressing the reasons why Federal Reserve policies affect economic growth and employment, earned her a reputation as a leading macroeconomist. She was a principal co-author of a 1991 study that predicted high unemployment in East Germany after unification. Her research on U.S. social policy in the 1990s proposed new explanations for the behavior of teenage gangs and for the rise in out-of-wedlock births.

Yellen has published many articles in economic journals and, as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, was responsible for the Economic Report of the President in 1998 and 1999. She has given testimony before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on numerous occasions.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Yellen grew up in New York City. She graduated summa cum laude from Brown University in 1967 with a major in economics before undertaking her graduate study at Yale, where she earned her Ph.D. in 1971.

In the alumni trustee ballot brochure, Yellen stated, “I had great teachers like William Brainard and Nobel laureate James Tobin. They did not just teach the subject matter, but, by example, they forged in me and my fellow students the values of dedication to justice, to public affairs and to students. I think of this as what is meant by ‘For God, for country and for Yale.’”

Teaching has been an important focus of Yellen’s own career, and her efforts have been rewarded with several Distinguished Teaching Awards. She began as an assistant professor at Harvard in 1971 and remained there until 1976. After brief stints at the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C. and the London School of Economics, she joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, as an assistant professor in 1980. In 1985 she became a full professor at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Among other honors, Yellen was awarded the Yale Graduate School’s Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal in 1997. She also received an honorary doctorate from Brown University, a Guggenheim Fellowship, several National Science Foundation grants and an award for national service from the Women’s Economic Round Table.

Yellen and her husband, economist George Akerlof, a 1962 graduate of Yale College, have one son, Robert, a member of the Yale College Class of 2003 and resident of Silliman College.

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Tom Conroy: tom.conroy@yale.edu, 203-432-1345