Dedication of the Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy and Finance
On October 11, Princeton University celebrated the dedication of the Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy and Finance. The ceremony was attended by the Julis and Rabinowitz families, their friends and members of the University community. The center is named in honor of the Mitch Julis’ parents - Maurice Julis and Thelma Rabinowitz Julis—and their parents.
In her opening remarks, President Shirley M. Tighman, indicated that the Center would meet two great needs: “First, it will help equip our students—especially those who will be involved in shaping public policy—with a solid grasp of financial issues. And second, it will provide today’s practitioners with the kind of rigorous tools and insights they require to develop and implement sound financial policies.” The Center was made possible by a gift from Mitch Julis ‘77, “who firmly believes that financial literacy is essential to an undergraduate education and equally critical to anticipating and preventing events such as the recent global financial meltdown” said President Tighman.
The center’s co-director, Markus Brunnermeier, Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Economic, spoke about the work of the center. He framed his remarks under the heading “Let’s make a lasting difference.” Making a difference in research meant “developing new insights of how we think about how finance and public policy can better serve the society. This touches upon important elements of financial regulation, monetary policy and fiscal debt sustainability and their interaction. “ Brunnermeier said that the center would make a difference in teaching and outreach and would embrace innovations in order to “make important ideas in finance accessible to the academic community and the broader public through a new concept: a video library of short presentations given by eminent scholars. “ Brunnermeier stressed that the center would aim to make a “lasting” difference by offering fundamental thinking on long-run issues. Finally, he emphasized the collaborative nature of the center’s work. Brunnermeier concluded that “To be successful, it [the center] has to build on the strength of many at the University and beyond. The center will reach out to other disciplines, especially in history, politics and psychology. The center will also support a multi-disciplinary approach. “
Mitch Julis remarked on his hopes that the Center under the direction of “two great co-heads, Markus Brunnermeier and Atif Mian and the diverse, talented, and committed faculty and advisory boards will pursue a multi-disciplinary approach which has been the fine tradition of the Woodrow Wilson School over its more than 75 year history. The rigor and practicality of the pedagogy will help students of finance and public policy become better equipped to deal with the dynamics of a complex world and its various social, political, and economic systems.” He stressed the importance of exploring new ways of thinking, “Slavish adherence to a fixed set of mental models in the social sciences is a prescription for creating severe unintended consequences or, at a minimum, instituting inconsequential policy and action.” Julis indicated that this was a hard lesson learned by Nobel Prize winner Robert Merton after the demise and debacle of Long Term Capital Management as explained by Professor Merton himself in the video “Lessons from Crashing the Financial System” and in the paper “The Design of Financial Systems: Towards a Synthesis of Function and Structure.” Julis concluded his remarks with a parable: “A man is seen planting a tree that will take 70 years to bear fruit. Another man asks “Why are you planting this tree?” and the first man responds “Because when I came here there were trees for me to pick fruit.” Julis hopes that the Center will bear fruit, that it will make a lasting difference as stated by Brunnermeier.
The ceremony closed with the Katzenjammers, a capella group, leading the guest in a rendition of “Old Nassau” at the 1879 Arch.
A celebratory luncheon followed the ceremony. Atif Mian, Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, offered a toast in honor of the Julis and Rabinowitz families. Mian expressed his excitement at Co-Directing the Center and and shared some stories from Mitch Julis’ time as an undergraduate student. Mian was followed by Cecilia E. Rouse, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs, who expressed the Woodrow Wilson School’s gratitude to the Julis and Rabinowitz families. Mitch Julis regaled the attendants with a power point presentation titled “What is In a Name? A lot of history.” He said “We feel privileged that the Center will bear the name of both sides of our family. The cultural and religious traditions of the Julis and Rabinowitz families represent two very different parts of the Jewish Diaspora – one rooted in the Roman Hellenic age of travel and trade along the newly opened trade routes during the first millennium after the Common Era, and the other based on the 16th Century Eastern European tradition of local business and crafts and rabbinic study. This diversity is in keeping with the diverse concepts, skills and backgrounds that will be taught at the Center to address today’s most complex issues necessary for righting our troubled global, regional, national and local financial systems.”