SDSU to celebrate 30th anniversary of alumnus’s Nobel Prize

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

Among his many achievements, Theodore W. Schultz, a 1927 graduate of what was then South Dakota State College, holds a Nobel Prize in economics.

The Nobel Prize, based on developing the Theory of Human Capital, was awarded to Schultz in 1979.

“Dr. Schultz developed the Theory of Human Capital, which focuses on the economic development of poor and developing nations,” said Bob Burns, a former political science professor for SDSU. “His goal was to direct capital towards humans for education and improvement of quality of life.”

Schultz’s theory focused on investing in people. His theory was similar to Pres. Obama’s economic stimulus package, said Burns.

“Obama’s stimulus package is similar to Dr. Schultz’s theory because it really invests in people,” said Burns. “Especially with its large focus on healthcare.”

Schultz was born on April 30, 1902, and grew up in a family of eight children with four brothers and three sisters. Because of the lack of work force, Schultz was unable to attend high school because he was needed to work on the family farm.

“Schultz was originally from Arlington and still has some family there,” said V.J. Smith, author of The College on the Hill and former Alumni Association director.

“Dr. Schultz started his education at South Dakota State College but was interrupted because of the World War I work shortage,” said Burns. “He later returned to South Dakota State College and finished his bachelor’s [degree].”

Schultz later entered the graduate program at the University of Wisconsin, where he received his Ph.D. in 1930. He went on to become a college-level professor.

“Dr. Schultz became a faculty member of Iowa State University as a professor and head of the Economics [and Sociology] Department,” Burns said. “He later went on to the University of Chicago where he was again a professor and head of the Economics Department.”

Schultz died on Feb. 26, 1998, at the age of 95.

“2009 is the 30th anniversary since [Schultz] was awarded his Nobel Prize in economics,” said Burns. “We plan to have a special commemorative event to celebrate his achievement.”

On April 29, the annual Shultz-Werth award ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m. in Rotunda B. The award ceremony is meant to honor those students who participated in the competition. The event has been annually occurring every year since 1964 and was originally sponsored by Schultz’s daughter, Margaret.

“The competition has two main categories; science and humanities,” said Burns. “Basically, students do research and write and submit papers that are judged by different faculty members.”

Cash awards are given to the candidates selected by the judges. Each winner receives $500.

“We really hope that the SDSU community will attend and recognize all of the students’ hard work and all their efforts,” said Burns.

On Oct. 6 and 7, a symposium will be held in Schultz’s honor. Details on the event are still being decided.