In Demand — CBA Graduates

It looks to be another strong fall recruiting season.
Kevin McFee (left), campus relations representative for EDS, presenting a check for $15,000 to Lois Meerdink, CCS director, and Howard Thomas, dean. The donation has purchased computers for the on-line recruiting initiative underway.

Used to be that these were the stuff that dreams were made of — perks reserved for corporate careerists in high-power mode and stars glittering
in the business firmament. No more. Signing bonuses have come to CBA. "We have had multiple offers to our students for signing bonuses or other compensation, such as companies covering the cost of relocation, or giving loans interest free," observes Lois Meerdink, director of Commerce Career Services. "One of our undergraduates who went into trading received a $20,000 signing bonus."

Chalk it up (this is college, after all) to a job market as robust as anyone's seen since CBA started compiling placement statistics. And signing bonuses aren't the only figures to zoom onward and upward. Preliminary stats, based on survey responses from the Commerce Class of 1998, show that median and average salaries have risen, anywhere from 5 to 10 percent, almost across the board. Demand is high, not only for such perennially favored majors as accounting and finance, but in up-and-coming fields like management information systems, industrial distribution management, and organizational administration. "So far this year, things are looking to continue at this level," Meerdink notes, clearly pleased, but characteristically cautious. "The Career Fair is fully reserved for the fall. Two hundred companies have booked facilities for interviewing on campus. It looks to be another strong fall recruiting season."

Distinguished Economist Delivers Kinley Lecture

In the time-honored tradition of bringing star economists to campus, James Heckman of the University of Chicago delivered the David Kinley Lecture in Economics on March 5. An economist who evaluates the impact of government social programs, Heckman titled his talk: "Rethinking Myths About Education and Training." His research shows that the cost to society of dropouts is staggering. "Using a 10 percent rate of return, it would require an investment of $25,000 in each high school dropout, or a staggering $214 billion in 1989 dollars, to restore male high school dropouts participating in the workforce to their 1979 real earnings level . . . By way of contrast, the entire Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb cost only $15 billion in 1989 dollars." Author of two recent books, on job training and incentives in government bureaucracies, Heckman also gave a seminar on "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality" to the Economics faculty.

Issues he has addressed in the course of his career include the impact of civil rights and affirmative action programs on the economy, the impact of taxes on labor supply, and the effect of unionism on labor markets. A professor of economics at the University of Chicago, where he is also director of social program evaluation for the Harris School of Public Policy, Heckman holds an additional appointment as senior research fellow at the American Bar Foundation.


Education Benefits Society Worldwide

The positive impact of education upon earnings and other measures of economic development is the focus of a new book by a CBA faculty member. When interviewed for InSight, Walter McMahon, emeritus professor of economics, was in his office preparing the manuscript that is to become his sixth book, Education and Development: Measuring the Social Benefits. "I guess you could call this my magnum opus," smiles the prof, who has also garnered considerable acclaim for "The Earning Curve," his study showing the long-term financial benefits of undergraduate and graduate degrees from the U of I (see InSight, Fall 1997).

Slated for publication by Oxford University Press, McMahon's new book projects the impact of education and knowledge on endogenous development in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, and the OECD nations. Using world-wide data to test growth models followed by simulations through the year 2035, McMahon forecasts both the economic and non-monetary impact of education on such areas as economic growth, population and health, democratization and human rights, political stability, poverty and inequality, the environment, and crime rates.

"Education leads to higher per capita income, which leads to growth and democratization," McMahon observes, noting that democratization contributes to political stability — after all, democracies can accommodate a wider range of political groups. Political stability promotes higher growth rates, as stable regimes are able to attract more investment from abroad. Population growth, fertility, urban poverty, and in-come inequality — all of these start to go down as education goes up. Deforestation rates get smaller. So do homicide and rural poverty rates. The book is based on data for eighteen countries in Latin America, ten in Asia, twenty-eight in sub-Saharan Africa, and twenty-two OECD industrialized nations. The models used are applicable to numerous other countries in these regions. Different patterns of growth are reflected for different types of political regimes. "Political instability," McMahon points out, "is a major impediment to economic growth."

Congressman Ewing Visits Executive Development Center

U.S. Representative Tom Ewing proudly holds a Larry Kanfer photograph of the University of Illinois, presented to him at a visit to the Executive Development Center.

Pictured from left to right are Virginia Waaler, program director; Nianhua Wang of EDC; and Congressman Ewing.

Returning a visit to his D.C. office from Ginny Waaler, Rep. Ewing dropped in on the EDC last February to learn about their operations. Dean Howard Thomas was on hand to welcome the congressman and to talk about the college. This was Ewing's first visit to CBA. He plans to add the campus photo to those of other Illinois colleges hanging in his Washington office.

KPMG/UI — Partners in Education


Of the thirty-two proposals submitted for consideration, eight were funded, with awards ranging from $26,500 to $35,000, and potential for follow-on research grants of up to $50,000.

Established to promote business research that combines strategy with accounting and auditing techniques, the program reflects a joint quest by KPMG and the college for updated perspectives and techniques, including modeling, knowledge acquisition, and new ways to deal with risk and the global business environment. KPMG has committed $300,000 to fund the first year of the program, designed to develop leading-edge classroom materials that
will be delivered to educators at no cost. Grants awarded in the first round went to researchers at Washington University, Auburn, Michigan State,
the University of Tennessee- Martin, the University of Alberta, Boston College, UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Chicago, Georgia State, and the University of Arizona. Case subjects range from the pharmaceutical and automotive industries, to
electronic commerce and managed health care.

For more information about this program contact Ira Solomon at

Data, Data, & More Data

In just ten years, from 1985 to 1995, assets held by life and health insurance companies in Illinois burgeoned by nearly 39 percent, from almost $824 million to more than $2.14 billion. Policyholders surged by a factor of nearly three during that same time, from more than 52 million to almost 143 million. Moreover, the number of life and health insurance companies in the state went down, from 866 in 1985 to 853 by 1995.

Statistical Abstract

Such are just a few small bytes of the mega-data compiled in the 1997 Illinois Statistical Abstract, a publication of the Commerce Office of Research. Covering the state's 102 counties and ten metropolitan areas, information ranges from facts on education and employment to data about parks and recreation to stats on crime and law enforcement. At 856 pages, the volume is by far the most extensive statistical picture ever of Illinois, useful to professionals in a diverse range of fields, from journalism, public relations, and grant-writing, to banking, marketing, accounting, and law. The bulk of the data is business-related, including massive amounts of information related to employment, income, state economic activity, and such economic sectors as agriculture, manufacturing, trade, finance, insurance, real estate, transportation, and energy. More bytes:
  • In 1995, the most sought-after type of loan was for $1,000 or less.
  • Between FY 1993 and FY 1996, the number of state-chartered credit unions shrank, from 580 to 514. But total membership grew, to almost 1.9 million. So did assets, which stood in 1996 at around $8.538 billion, a three-year increase of almost 11 percent.
  • As of 1996, the unemployment rate stood at half of what it was in '85, declining from 8.5 percent to 4.7 percent in metropolitan areas, and from 12.2 percent to 6.2 percent elsewhere in the state.

Sold at a cost of $50 per volume, the 1997 Illinois Statistical Abstract is also available on CD and floppy disk. For the first time ever, the CD carries the full range of information compiled by the Abstract's editors since 1990. CD and disk users may not only view but may also manipulate data for comparison and citation. Disks are available in several price packages and computer formats. For information contact the Commerce Office of Research, at (217) 333-2331. Or go to the Abstract's Web site:

Available in late November