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Mailing Address

531 Brooks Hall
Terry College of Business
Athens, GA 30602

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The mission of the Bonbright Center in the Department of Economics in the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia is to promote the economic analysis of regulation and policy, emphasizing the role markets play in coordinating economic activity. The Center fulfills its mission through its support of faculty research, graduate and undergraduate education, and outreach activities.

About the Center

Martha Bonbright

In 1990, Martha E. Bonbright generously contributed to the University of Georgia’s Department of Economics in the Terry College of Business to create the Bonbright Center for Public Utilities. This center honored her husband, James C. Bonbright, who was a professor of finance at Columbia University School of Business from 1919 until he retired in 1960. James also served as a trustee and chairman of the New York State Power Authority and authored several influential journal articles and books. Professor Bonbright’s “Valuation of Property” earned him the Harvard Law School’s Ames Prize in 1938. The original purpose of the center was to understand of regulatory economics as applied to public utilities. For much of its history, the primary means of advancing this goal was the annual Bonbright Electric and Natural Gas Conference for individuals from academia, industry, and government.

Martha Bonbright was a native Athenian who graduated from the Athens Normal School, Athens High School and University of Georgia in the class of 1931. She earned a degree in Library Sciences at Columbia University where she met James C. Bonbright. After retiring in Athens, Martha was an active member in the Athens First United Methodist Church, the Bobbin Mill Garden Club, and the Roadrunners travel group. In 2016, after receiving another generous donation from Martha, the Economics Department rechristened the center as the Bonbright Center for the Study of Regulatory Economics and broadened the scope to study regulation in all contexts. Mrs. Bonbright’s generosity also allowed us to provide funding for faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates, thus significantly enhancing the department’s recruiting and retention of faculty and graduate students and its teaching of undergraduates.

Faculty

The Bonbright Center plays an important role in contributing summer salary support and travel and research expenses for faculty. To facilitate research the center also sponsors a seminar series that brings influential scholars to UGA to present their research, provides working papers of faculty, and hosts visiting scholars and conferences.

Graduate Students

The Bonbright Center plays an important role in supporting graduate education. The Center provides assistantships to highly qualified graduate students whose central research interest involves regulatory economics. The center also allocates funding for graduate students to acquire data and present their research at academic conferences. Graduate students also benefit from the Bonbright seminar series that brings influential regulation researchers from to UGA to present their original research.

Meghan I. Esson is the first Bonbright Graduate Fellow. Meghan is a third-year PhD student in economics whose research analyzes policy-related questions in the fields of health and insurance.

She is evaluating how the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) affected emergency department utilization. She is analyzing how the extent to which the Medicaid expansion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act increased emergency department usage and congestion. Esson’s other research interests include hospital cost-shifting and public insurance recipients’ access to primary care clinics.

Undergraduates

The Bonbright Center enhances the undergraduate experience by promoting First-Year Odyssey courses, undergraduate research and CURO involvement that relate to regulatory economics. In addition, the Center invites prominent scholars and policy makers to give university-wide lectures. The Bonbright Center also facilitates matches between economics undergraduates and policy organizations that provide internships and conference opportunities.

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