Gift establishes Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy and Finance at Princeton

Investment executive Mitch Julis, a member of Princeton's class of 1977, has made a substantial gift to create the Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy and Finance at the University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Research and teaching at the center will focus on using in-depth knowledge of financial markets to improve the design and implementation of public policies.

"This timely gift will enable Princeton to leverage its great strengths in finance, economics and public policy," President Shirley M. Tilghman said. "The new center will provide our students and faculty, as well as the larger scholarly community, with much-needed tools to analyze and improve our nation's financial and public policies in the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. I am enormously grateful to Mitch for his generosity and leadership."

The gift provides the foundation for a series of investments the University plans to make in the emerging field of public policy and finance, including providing support for research, graduate fellowships, course development, distinguished visitors, undergraduate internships and public outreach.

"The potential benefit of study and scholarship in policy and finance at the Wilson School is highlighted by the most recent upheaval in our financial markets," said Christina Paxson, dean of the Wilson School. "While the precise source of the 2008 market collapse will be debated for some time, it seems clear that a failure of public policy bears a large share of the blame. With this backdrop, we are poised to teach students to be better stewards of a system that so profoundly affects the daily lives of all Americans, and indeed all citizens of the globe."

Julis is a co-founder of Canyon Capital Advisors, a Los Angeles-based asset management firm. He earned an A.B. from the Wilson School and an MBA and J.D. from Harvard University, and has served on the advisory council of Princeton's Department of Economics. In addition to the gift to establish the center, the Julis family also created the Julis Foundation Preceptorship at Princeton in 2007. The center is named in honor of his father and mother, Maurice Julis and Thelma Rabinowitz Julis, and their families.

"Both my parents were educators in the New York school system during the fiscal crisis in the 1970s, and I am reminded of those tumultuous times when assessing the post-Lehman Brothers world," Julis said. "Boom-bust cycles and their adverse social consequences are going to continue to occur unless public policymakers develop a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of our financial system and can formulate appropriate solutions. I am very fortunate that Princeton, and in particular Professor Uwe Reinhardt (a professor of economics and public affairs at the Wilson School), gave me an education that provided a solid foundation for my career in finance and investing. Therefore, my family is privileged to be able to help Princeton strengthen its ability to educate the next generation of public policymakers in this critical area that so affects our nation's future."

The Julis-Rabinowitz Center, which will begin operations in the 2011-12 academic year, will create new opportunities for research collaborations among students and faculty in the Wilson School and other departments and programs that focus on topics as diverse as economics, finance, law, politics, history and ethics. An important aspect of the gift is that it will forge a new partnership between the Wilson School and the University's Bendheim Center for Finance, supporting joint teaching and research programs, including the development of courses that will enrich the University's undergraduate certificate in finance and master in finance programs at the Bendheim Center.

"With this gift, Princeton is ideally positioned to expand on its leading research on financial crises," said Yacine Aït-Sahalia, director of the Bendheim Center. "The opportunity for our students to be exposed to different points of view and to participate in interdisciplinary research at the nexus between finance and public policy will be of enormous benefit to them and more broadly to the financial system."

The work of the center will be supported by an external advisory group, currently in formation, of which Julis will be a part.

Reinhardt, Princeton's James Madison Professor of Political Economy, noted, "Mitchell Julis understands the value of teaching policy students about the ins and outs of the financial world -- he appreciates that financial literacy is essential to make good policy in today's world."

The gift is part of the University's $1.75 billion fundraising campaign, "Aspire: A Plan for Princeton."