William “Bill” Neilson, J. Fred Holly Chair of Excellence, became head of the Department of Economics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Business Administration on January 1. He succeeded Robert Bohm, who retired December 2012 after being department head for 10 years.
“As we celebrate the college’s 100th birthday, it is an exciting time to become head of the department,” Neilson said. “Bob left the department in wonderful shape, and I am looking forward to joining the leadership team of the College of Business Administration.”
Jan R. Williams, dean of UT’s College of Business Administration and Stokely Foundation Leadership Chair, said that the college is fortunate to have a faculty member with Neilson’s background and talent to assume the department’s head position.
“Bill follows Bob Bohm’s successful time as department head and has two former department heads, Matt Murray and Bill Fox, to advise and support him,” said Williams. “I have coordinated this appointment with incoming dean, Steve Mangum, and we are both looking forward to working with Bill as he assumes this important position.”
Neilson joined the UT economics faculty in 2006 after teaching at Texas A&M University for 18 years. He earned his doctorate in economics from the University of California, San Diego, and his bachelor’s degree in both mathematics and economics from Rice University.
Neilson is an economic theorist; he uses mathematical tools to answer questions relevant to economics. His primary research areas include game theory (the study of interactions among small numbers of individuals or firms), behavior toward risk, and the now-popular field of behavioral economics. He also is interested in issues related to pricing, collusion, social networks, education and law.
Neilson has published more than 40 papers in academic journals. He has also published two textbooks, including the recent Personnel Economics, which discusses how compensation structures can be used to motivate workers, maximize profit, and attract the right applicant pool. He currently serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, which handles more than 700 academic papers each year.
At UT, Neilson teaches macroeconomics, international economics and the economics of strategy in the Executive MBA for Strategic Leadership program. He also teaches game theory and mathematical economics in the economics doctoral program.