Master Teacher Dan Benjamin Retires from Clemson

Professor Dan Benjamin is retiring from Clemson University. As a long-time advocate of free markets, Dan likely underestimates the significance of this loss to the school and, in particular, the John E. Walker Department of Economics. He likely expects the department to find a substitute in the marketplace, perhaps one with lower opportunity costs and consequently a lower wage rate.

But Dan would be wrong; there is no substitute available at his or any other price. No other instructor will captivate a 300 person introductory micro class like Dan. No other writer can distill the principles of economics as clearly or as engagingly as Dan. And no other mentor can motivate aspiring economists (either to excel in economics or find other aspirations) as did Dan.

Professor Dan Benjamin, that “scoundrel whose faulty vision sees things as they really are, not as they ought to be,” had a funny habit of seeing students and colleagues as they were, then making them better. When he was awarded the Alumni Master Teachers Award in 2008 student nominators wrote:

[H]e challenged, enlightened, and educated them in an enjoyable class setting. One student described him as “extremely passionate” and another wrote, “Dr. Benjamin has unknowingly influenced my change of major to economics and has been my favorite professor here at Clemson.”

Luckily for us at PERC, Dan will have more time to spend in Montana now. In 1994, he joined PERC as a senior fellow and is now the director of the PERC Fellowship Program for graduate and law students. Dan is the author of numerous scholarly articles and books, and served as the associate editor of the journal Economic Inquiry. Dan has also served as a staff economist with the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, as deputy assistant secretary of labor, and as chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Labor. But it is Dan’s work on recycling that has made him known as “the trash man” around PERC. You can read his popular Tangents column for PERC Reports here, his PERC Policy Series on recycling, or watch him discussing recycling on Penn and Teller.

We congratulate Dan on his retirement and look forward to seeing him at PERC this summer.


  1. bobby mccormick says:

    Dan Benjamin is a teacher’s teacher. Mr. Clemson himself winked the day that Dan gave his last lecture. it is some sort of shame that future students won’t have the opportunity to hear his lucid love of economics feasted in a way that is more lyrical than lecture. perhaps the echos bouncing off the walls in the large auditorium of Brackett Hall will help some future student understand that incentives do matter and yes, demand curves do slope downward, always for all things. yes, even drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, water, and recycling. his bark that at first scared so many barely hid his deep love for all things learning. Dan taught a lot of people a lot of things, and Clemson will miss him immensely.