Edward López named BB&T professor

An economist, author and teacher from San Jose State University in California will join the faculty of Western Carolina University as the new BB&T Distinguished Professor of Capitalism.

Edward J. López will begin his duties in WCU’s College of Business on Wednesday, Aug. 8.

López has taught at San Jose State for seven years, most recently serving as associate professor of law and economics. He previously taught at the University of North Texas for seven years and was manager of public policy programs at the Mercatus Center, an economics research center at George Mason University, for two years. He also worked as a staff economist for the Joint Economic Committee of Congress in 1993 and 1994.

“It is a great honor to be appointed to the faculty of Western Carolina University and to the BB&T chair,” López said. “I’m excited to begin teaching my classes in economics and serving the university through student research programs, faculty development and a speaker series while representing WCU globally through my publications, public speaking and professional service.”

Edward J. López

López’s research focuses on comparisons of market, political and legal institutions. He has been widely published in journals such as the Review of Law and Economics, Public Choice and the Southern Economic Journal, and he is co-author of the book “Madmen, Intellectuals and Academic Scribblers: The Economic Engine of Political Change,” which will be released in September by the Stanford University Press. The book is a history of political and economic ideas written for a general audience.

López currently serves as president of the Public Choice Society, and he is past president of the Association of Private Enterprise Education. He earned his doctoral and master’s degrees in economics at George Mason University and his bachelor’s degree in economics at Texas A&M University.

López is a native of San Antonio, Texas, and he and his wife, Jamie, have two children. López said he and his family are excited about making the move to the mountains of Western North Carolina. “Things can get complicated trying to move a household all the way from California, but every step of the way the people of Western Carolina have been extremely welcoming and generous to us with their time and favors,” he said. “We feel very welcome and fortunate to be joining as members of the community.”

Kenneth Flynt, associate dean of advancement in the College of Business, served as chair of the search committee for the BB&T professorship. “Ed López is among the best in his field, and we are incredibly fortunate to woo him to WCU and our College of Business,” Flynt said. “Not only is he an outstanding academic, but Dr. López has the capacity to generate external support which will help sustain our college’s economics program. Most of all, he is an exceptional individual and will be a leader in our university community.”

The BB&T professorship was funded in 2008 through a $1 million pledge to the College of Business from the BB&T Foundation to support the study of leadership, ethics and capitalism. Half the gift was matched by the state to create the $1 million professorship endowment, while the remainder is being used to support student research and creative work in the areas of leadership, ethics and capitalism, and to support faculty members engaged in scholarly work in those same areas.