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Watkins, Hamilton to leave UCSB for CLU

By   /   Tuesday, February 24th, 2009  /   Comments Off on Watkins, Hamilton to leave UCSB for CLU

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[Editor’s Note: Click here to read an update of this story.]

California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks has landed the most prominent team of economic forecasters in the Tri-Counties, the school said Feb. 24.

Bill Watkins, Dan Hamilton and Kirk Lesh – who form the core of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Economic Forecast Project – plan to leave UCSB for CLU, where they will expand their economic forecast to other states and propose what Watkins hopes will be a “world-class” master’s program in economics.

Watkins and Hamilton have headed the UCSB-EFP since 2000. In a Business Times interview, Watkins said he and his team were swayed by the chance to branch out.

“I did my dissertation here [at UCSB] and spent nine years here,” Watkins said. “I have no complaints. It’s just been a wonderful place to work.”

Charles Maxey, dean of CLU’s business school, said the proposed new master’s program – which will need approval from the school’s faculty – will focus on economic modeling and forecasting and offer the chance for students to do hands-on work in close coordination with Watkins’ team. The program would be full time and take on only 10 to 15 students, Maxey said.

“We don’t want to have a big program, but we want to have a good program,” Maxey said.

CLU was looking to bolster its national visibility and graduate programs, Maxey said, and bringing aboard Watkins and letting his team expand its forecasts was a good fit. “Visibility and reputation go together for us,” Maxey said. “There’s no point in being visible if you’re not seen as being good.”

For its part, UCSB plans to meet with the UCSB-EFP’s board members to discuss the project’s future direction.

“Bill Watkins has done an outstanding job as director of the UC Santa Barbara Economic Forecast Project, but it is important to note that this is a program of the university that existed before Bill came here nine years ago and will continue after he departs,” UCSB spokesman Paul Desruisseaux told the Business Times via e-mail. “UCSB regards it as an extremely important and valuable public service and is committed to maintaining it.”

Watkins and Hamilton are expected to move to CLU this spring, that university said. Lesh, who joined the UCSB-EFP as a real estate economist in 2007 and is also a lecturer at CLU, will also join the CLU faculty.

For the full story, read the Feb. 27 edition of the Business Times.

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