Alumni Profile

Alumni Profile: Richard Blandy PhD'69, Economics

Richard Blandy

What is your current role?
Retired economist and academic.

What are you working on now?
Writing occasional newspaper articles about the Australian or South Australian economy, especially In Daily (an Adelaide online newspaper).

What drew you to your field?
I always was interested in economics at school and received my Bachelor of Economics degree (with First Class Honors) at the University of Adelaide in 1961. I worked in education and training at the International Labour Office in Geneva until the end of 1965, when I received an Earhart Scholarship at Columbia to study with Professor Gary Becker in the Department of Economics and support to study with Professor Harold Noah at Teachers College. I then embarked on a PhD program in Economics and Education at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

What lessons from graduate school have you found useful in your professional life?
Be brave. Persist. Hard work pays off.

What skill has unexpectedly helped you in your career?
Getting on with people. You must publish a lot to succeed in an academic career, but you must get on with people and have others trust you to be put in charge.

What is your favorite memory from your graduate years?
Going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as visiting and picnicking at the Cloisters. These were affordable outings for our children and us. I also remember that I found Gary Becker's Economic Theory course thrilling because the ideas he presented were breathtakingly beautiful. My middle daughter was born in New York during this time, so my wife and I have an Australian-American in our family as a permanent memento of our time at Columbia.

What are your passions outside of your work?
Being a husband, father, and grandfather. Gardening. Golf. Eating out with family and friends. Travel.

What is next for you, professionally or otherwise?
Advising the next group of young people (including grandchildren). Talking to politicians and their advisers. Occasional writing and speaking.

What motivates you to give to Columbia?
I am so grateful to Columbia, even though being a student was difficult at the time (a married foreigner with two children — one born in New York — living on a shoestring budget in Morningside Heights). In retrospect, I would change none of it, though. The whole thing was a life-enhancing experience.