Marcelo Cunha Medeiros named Jorge Paulo Lemann Chair in Brazilian Economy

Professor focuses on theoretical developments in economics and the evaluation of public policies
Jerry Davila, George Deltas, Venetria Patton, Marcelo Medeiros, Jorge Paulo Lemann, Chancellor Robert Jones, Eun Yi Chunk, and Kevin Jackson
Jerry Dávila, director of the Illinois Global Institute; George Deltas, head of the Department of Economics; Harry E. Preble Dean Venetria K. Patton;  Marcelo Cunha Medeiros, the Jorge Paulo Lemann Chair in Brazilian Economy; Jorge Paulo Lemann; Chancellor Robert J. Jones; economics professor Eun Yi Chung; and Vice Provost Kevin Jackson. 

Economics professor Marcelo Cunha Medeiros was named the Jorge Paulo Lemann Chair in Brazilian Economy in a recent ceremony.

While he joined the faculty of the University of Illinois less than a year ago, Medeiros brings a history of research, scholarship, and teaching. He was previously with the Department of Economics at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro for 22 years after earning BA, MSc., and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from that institution. He was elected a fellow of the Society of Financial Econometrics in 2022, serves as associate editor on many journals, and is the author for more than 50 papers.

Medeiros is also well known and appreciated for his mentorship of students and junior faculty. Eun Yi Chung, assistant professor of economics, noted that although Medeiros is frequently cited by other econometricians and brings energy and excitement to the department, she is especially grateful for his guidance and willingness to engage with faculty and students at all levels.

“His background and expertise underscore the mission of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and fuel the cross-campus collaboration for which this great university is known,” said Venetria Patton, Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of LAS.

Also honored during the investiture ceremony was Swiss-Brazilian entrepreneur Jorge Paulo Lemann, the donor whose support enabled the creation of the Lemann Chair. He is founder and chairman of the board of the Lemann Foundation, whose mission “is to guarantee access to high-quality public education for Brazilians of all backgrounds while supporting the development of leaders committed to the social transformation of Brazil.”

Jerry Dávila, Jorge Paulo Lemann Chair and executive director of the Illinois Global Institute, noted that Lemann has supported over 3,000 scholarships and fellowships for Brazilian students pursuing programs of study in international institutions and that many of these students have pursued advanced degrees at the University of Illinois.

Lemann’s foundation continues the work of the late Werner Baer, a longtime member of the economics faculty at U of I and the first Lemann Chair, who created a fund to recruit Latin American students to Illinois. When he suggested that the department seek additional funds from alumni and friends, Lemann was among the first and most generous to respond. The friendship between Baer and Lemann was a contributing factor to the creation the Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies.

Accepting his investiture medallion, Medeiros said that as Baer had done during his career and as Jorge Paulo Lemann is still doing, he hopes to continue to aid Brazilian students, especially those from low-income families, by providing them with opportunities to study in U.S. colleges and universities.

Earlier on the day of his investiture, Medeiros was the keynote speaker at The Lemann Dialogue 2023: Roads to Recovery, an event organized by the Lemann Center that brought together professors and policymakers to explore the challenges and opportunities of Brazilian economics, education, entrepreneurship, the environment, health, and racial justice. His talk was titled, “Evaluating the Impacts of Public Policy in the Era of Misinformation and Polarization: The Case of COVID-19.”

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Terri Gitler, Illinois Global Institute