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Higher Education
Rice University
News Release
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Rice economist Antonio Merlo named dean of Rice's School of Social Sciences

HOUSTON– Antonio Merlo, the George A. Peterkin Professor and department chair of economics at Rice University, has been appointed dean of Rice's School of Social Sciences. The appointment is effective July 1.

"Antonio has done a remarkable job of enhancing the reputation of Rice's Department of Economics in just two years, and we expect the same level of passion as he takes on this new role," said Rice President David Leebron. "Antonio’s expertise and leadership are well-suited to making Rice's School of Social Sciences even more vibrant and visible not just on campus, but also in Houston and throughout the world."

"It is a great honor to be chosen as the next dean of Rice's School of Social Sciences," Merlo said. "Since my arrival at Rice in the summer of 2014, I have been extremely impressed by the university’s extraordinary accomplishments and future aspirations. I am thankful for President Leebron and Provost (Marie Lynn) Miranda’s trust in my skills and ability to lead and advance the School of Social Sciences to an even higher level of excellence and impact."

As dean, Merlo will oversee the departments of
Anthropology, Economics, Linguistics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology and Sport Management. He will also supervise interdisciplinary programs, including cognitive sciences, managerial studies and policy studies; the school's research institutes, centers and programs, including the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas, the Social Sciences Research Institute, the Douglas S. Harlan Program in State Elections, Campaigns and Politics and the School of Social Sciences Gateway programs; and the Master of Global Affairs and Master of Energy Economics degree programs.

"There are tremendous opportunities on the horizon for Rice's School of Social Sciences, and we are excited for Antonio to step into this new role and continue his work with the exceptionally talented team of faculty, students and staff at Rice," Miranda said. "Antonio's energy and creativity are always apparent, and we expect many wonderful innovations under his leadership."

The first member of his family to graduate from college, Merlo earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and social sciences from Italy’s Bocconi University and a Ph.D. in economics from New York University. Before coming to Rice in 2014, Merlo taught at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Minnesota and New York University and has held numerous visiting positions throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Merlo's areas of expertise are political economy, public economics, empirical microeconomics and bargaining theory and applications. He has published numerous articles in leading economics journals, including the American Economic Review, Econometrica, the Journal of Political Economy and the Journal of Economic Theory. He is an elected fellow of the Econometric Society. He also serves as a research fellow of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research and as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Since coming to Rice, Merlo has led efforts to create a new professional master's degree in energy economics and added an endowed chair position and recruited several highly respected economists to the department.

"I am delighted to have the opportunity to work collaboratively with all departments, institutes, centers and programs in the social sciences," Merlo said.

Leebron and Miranda said Lyn Ragsdale, the Radoslav A. Tsanoff Chair of Political Science, who has led Rice's School of Social Sciences for the past 10 years, made many important contributions to the school and university. Ragsdale will remain a faculty member in the Political Science Department and will continue to be active in Rice's Master of Global Affairs program. She has a forthcoming book titled "The American Nonvoter," which she co-authored with Jerrold Rusk, a professor of political science at Rice.

For more information on Merlo, visit

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