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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mercer University: A School That Knows Its Economics

In an article posted here on November 20, 2009, I opened with these three paragraphs:

“I want my son or daughter to be exposed to free market economics after high school. What colleges or universities do you recommend?”

If I’ve been asked that question once, I’ll bet I’ve been asked it a thousand times. Parents who cherish the values of freedom, limited government and private enterprise have good reason to be concerned about where they send their offspring for higher “education.” Academia is full of statist bias, and statists usually aren’t comfortable when the first non-statist is accidentally hired for a teaching position (they think it’s a takeover). So when you find an economics program in which free market ideas are treated with respect and given a prominent forum, it’s news to celebrate.

Keep in mind that I am talking here about economics, period. If a college or university has a good econ program, that doesn’t mean it also has a good offering or even a decent balance in its other social science programs.

On that occasion, I wrote about Florida Gulf Coast University.

The school I want to acquaint readers with this time is one I’ve become familiar with over the last academic year, Mercer University. Mercer has campuses in Atlanta, Macon, and Savannah. Its core undergraduate campus, which consistently ranks in the Top 10 for beautiful campuses in America, is located in Macon, Georgia. It’s an urban campus with an extremely active student body and great Southern cuisine nearby.

Some libertarian-leaning professors teach in the history, philosophy, and political science departments, but it’s the group of economists on Mercer’s Macon campus, all of whom are solid free market economists, that I’m most familiar with. A brief biography of each is provided below.

SCOTT A. BEAULIER, BB&T Distinguished Professor of Capitalism and Department Chair of Economics, earned his undergraduate degree in economics and history from Northern Michigan University (2000) and his M.A. (2002) and Ph.D. (2004) from George Mason University. Much of his research has focused on issues of economic development; in particular, he is one of the leading experts on Botswana’s growth miracle. His research maintains that Botswana’s rapid growth can be attributed to their being economically free and open. He has also published research in the areas of Austrian economics, law & economics, public choice economics, and economic education. Some of his popular press publications have appeared in leading newspapers, such as the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Wall Street Journal. He has been active with Liberty Fund, has taught for the Institute for Humane Studies, and will soon be teaching for the Foundation for Economic Education.

Professor Beaulier is also directing the Center for Undergraduate Research in Public Policy & Capitalism. The new center supports collaborative research between undergraduates and faculty members that addresses themes related to capitalism. This spring he will teach a course titled, “The Economic and Moral Foundations of Capitalism.”

WILLIAM S. MOUNTS, Associate Dean of the Stetson School of Business and Economics and Professor of Economics, earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Georgia. Dr. Mounts has over 50 academic articles, books, and presentations. His presentations have been at national and international conferences including the Southern Economics Association, the Western Economics Conference, and the central bank of Switzerland. Journals in which he has published include the Economics of Governance, Journal of Macroeconomics, Southern Economic Review, Public Choice, Journal of Sports Economics, Journal of Money, Banking and Credit and the Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics.

His current research interests include an examination of monetary regimes using extreme value estimation techniques, the aging of men and women, the economics of teamwork, and banking in the Great Depression. Much of this work focuses on how free market incentives create socially-desired outcomes and that governmentally-determined incentives do not.

Recently, Dr. Mounts and Dr. Beaulier have published opinion pieces in The Wall Street Journal and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

ALLEN K. LYNCH, Director of Graduate Programs and Associate Professor of Economics, earned his earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Florida and his master’s and doctorate degrees at Florida State University. While at FSU, he was greatly influenced by many renowned public choice economists, such as Bruce Benson, Randy Holcombe, Jim Gwartney and David Rasmussen. He has taught at the University of North Florida and worked as a Senior Demographic Research Analyst for Blockbuster Entertainment Group prior to joining the Mercer University faculty in 2000.

He has published numerous journal articles, ranging from “Identifying the NCAA Tournament Dance Card,” a statistical model which accurately predicted 94 percent of college basketball teams that earned at-large bids for the NCAA tournament over the last 10 years (coauthored by B. Jay Coleman of the University of North Florida), to “Proximity, Neighborhood and the Efficacy of Exclusion,” recently published in Urban Studies (coauthored by David W. Rasmussen). While research related to the public choice aspects of real estate markets and crime dominate his research agenda, interest in the NCAA article resulted in substantial media attention. Over the last several years, stories related to this research appeared in The New York Times, Investors’ Business Daily, The Wall Street Journal, as well as several Associated Press outlets.

With so many campuses devoid of solid teaching that stresses the critical role of free markets and private property in economic progress, Mercer University is another welcome island in a sea of confusion.

  • Lawrence W. Reed is FEE's President Emeritus, having previously served for nearly 11 years as FEE’s president (2008-2019). He is also FEE's Humphreys Family Senior Fellow and Ron Manners Global Ambassador for Liberty. His Facebook page is here and his personal website is