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Augustana, Museum of American Finance Launch Research Institute

Augustana College and the Museum of American Finance today announced the launch of The Thomas Willing Institute for the Study of Financial Markets, Institutions and Regulations, an initiative that will fund and support student research fellowships and educational outreach programs. The Institute will include an online resource and will feature public and Internet speaking engagements by the Institute’s director, Dr. Robert E. Wright, the Nef Family Chair of Political Economy at Augustana College.

Wright will make the first of his speeches as the Institute’s director at the Center for Western Studies at Augustana College at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 7. His speech, entitled “Dying by Degrees: The Economics of FUBAR,” will be followed by a 15-minute question and answer session.

The Institute’s website features an extensive glossary of business, economic, and financial history terms and includes links to important research websites. In addition, research fellowships worth $2,500 each will be offered to two Augustana students in the summer of 2011.

“Student research is a very important part of what we do here,” said Augustana President Rob Oliver. “We’re thrilled that the Thomas Willing Institute will allow students to conduct research in the crucial but underappreciated topic of financial history and to share their findings with the world.”

“We’re very pleased to cement our long-time relationship with Wright in this manner,” said David J. Cowen, the president of the Museum of American Finance. “He has helped the Museum in several capacities in the past and the new institute will allow us to work even more closely together in our efforts to spread the benefits of financial education throughout this great country of ours,” he noted, adding “it is appropriate at long last to honor and bring alive the legacy of Thomas Willing."

Funding for the Institute is provided by Augustana College, the Nef Family endowment, and the Museum of American Finance in New York’s financial district.

The Institute is named in honor of Thomas Willing (1731-1821), a Philadelphia merchant and politician who became America’s first commercial banker, its first central banker, and an important supporter of the nascent marine and life insurance industries. More information and a cartoon video about Willing are available on the Institute’s website.