American University’s School of Public Affairs named Erdal Tekin the inaugural Charles W. Fotis, Sr. and Dorothea G. Fotis Family Distinguished Professor in Health Policy this year.
“Receiving [this] title is a great honor, and I am grateful to the Fotis family and SPA Dean Vicky Wilkins for recognizing my work in health economics and the economics of risky behavior and crime,” said Tekin. “[It is] a testament to the high quality of scholarship and the caliber of faculty in my department, [which] have created an environment that encourages excellence.”
“The greatest resource any school of higher education has is its brain bank,” said Linda Fotis (CAS/BA ’78), who established the professorship – along with her brothers Stephen (WCL/JD ’86) and Bill – as part of American University’s Change Can’t Wait Campaign. The gift will support faculty in the project of higher learning. “The faculty of a university are its shining stars – they attract the students. Great minds who are also great teachers change the world, one student at a time. They open a student’s mind and put the Truth in it.”
“My father was passionate about bringing together science and technology within the government to help shape its policy. Health policy is the closest area we could match, and it is a very timely subject,” she said, adding “My father first expressed these ideas in his 1958 dissertation at SPA.”
In the introduction to his dissertation, Charles Fotis wrote:
Tekin’s expertise aligns perfectly with these aims. A professor at SPA since 2014, he also serves as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a research fellow at the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.
“My research on the determinants of risky health behaviors, delinquency, and crime, as well as the impact of public policies and programs designed to reduce the prevalence of these behaviors and associated costs, is directly relevant to health policy,” he said. “Furthermore, my background as an economist offers a unique perspective for analyzing and understanding the complexities of health policy issues.”
AU President Sylvia Burwell concurred. “Our AU faculty are gifted professors, practitioners, mentors and leaders in their fields. Establishing distinguished professorships and faculty chairs helps us to recruit and retain top faculty, and to support them in their efforts to create ground-breaking scholarship as they guide the next generation of changemakers,” she said. “The Fotis family have been such incredible supporters of AU and this gift will help us to continue to be a leader in the field of health policy, an area that will only grow in importance in the coming years.”
The resources provided by the professorship will allow Tekin to expand the scope and scale of his research, disseminate his findings to a wider audience, explore new areas of inquiry, and better engage with policymakers and practitioners.
“This will help to inform and shape the development of public policies and programs aimed at reducing the prevalence of risky health behaviors, delinquency, and crime, and the costs associated with them,” he said.
“In terms of teaching, the professorship will hopefully give me the opportunity to inspire students to develop an interest in health policy through mentorship and training,” Tekin explained. “I will be able to share my expertise and experience with them, and hopefully motivate them to pursue a career in this field.”
To honor this generous gift and the legacy of Charles W. Fotis, SPA hosts an annual Fotis Family Lecture featuring the leading minds in health policy. The inaugural seminar, in October 2022, featured Dr. Richard G. Frank, the Margaret T. Morris Professor of Health Economics in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School.
“It’s the talent, dedication and academic excellence of the faculty that creates a school’s legacy and place in our culture,” Linda Fotis said. “Universities should build their schools from the ground up, not with buildings, but with brilliant minds. That’s what our parents taught us and what we believe as a family. It’s our family legacy at American University.”