A Notable January Birthday


Originally published in Flourishing January 2012. 

Vernon Lomax Smith was born in Wichita on January 1, 1927.  After his father lost his job as a machinist during the Great Depression,Vernon’s family moved to a farm in western Sedgwick County.  As a teenager, he attended my parents’ alma mater,Wichita North High School, graduating in 1945. 

Vernon said that after high school, he wanted go to Cal Tech, but his high school grades weren’t good enough; so, he attended Friends University in Wichita to rehabilitate his academic record.  He then went on to earn a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Cal Tech in 1949, an M.A. in Economics from the University of Kansas in 1952, and a PhD. in Economics from Harvard in 1955.  I guess that ain’t too bad for a farm kid. 

Dr. Smith has since held teaching and research positions at Stanford, Brown, Cal Tech,Arizona, and George Mason University, among others.  He is currently Professor of Economics at Chapman University’s Argyros School of Business and Economics and School of Lawin Orange,California; a research scholar at George Mason University Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science; and a Fellow of the Mercatus Center.  But Wait!  There’s more:  

In 2002, Dr. Vernon Smith was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in behavioral and experimental economics.  Most of the research that earned Dr. Smith the Nobel Prize was conducted at the University of Arizona between 1976 and 2002.

Then, at the age of seventy-eight, Dr. Smith spoke publicly for the first time about having Asperger’s Syndrome, a developmental disorder on the Autism Spectrum.  Social deficits, communication difficulties, stereotyped or repetitive behaviors and interests, and cognitive delays often characterize these disorders. 

Thank you, Dr. Smith, and Happy Birthday!


I wonder….  Who—other than Vernon, and perhaps his mother—would have predicted his outstanding achievements?  mh