Thomas J. Courchene, Professor, Department of Economics and Policy Studies
Though he has authored 64 books, penned 300 academic papers, and been named an Officer of the Order of Canada, Thomas J. Courchene says the highlight of his nearly 50-year career only happened in June, on the cusp of his retirement.
“The last thing I did as a professor is something that not many can claim,” he says. “I was able to ‘hood’ my oldest grandchild at spring convocation in Grant Hall.” It was an appropriate finale to an illustrious career that has balanced academic accolades with the demands of being a father of three and grandfather to nine.
For the last 24 years, Dr. Courchene has served as a professor in the Department of Economics and the School of Policy Studies. He earned his PhD at Princeton University, taking up a position as a professor of economics at the University of Western Ontario in 1965. He knew, however, that he wanted to be working in a more interdisciplinary environment. So when Queen’s opened its School of Policy Studies in 1988, Dr. Courchene realized he’d found his next home and took up the directorship.
Dr. Courchene, who is also a senior scholar with the Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, is an expert in Canadian public policy. It’s an area of study that has allowed him to explore everything from monetary policy and equalization payments, to First Nations challenges, unemployment insurance, and environmental federalism, a term Dr. Courchene coined himself. He says with the world becoming increasingly complex and interrelated, it’s important to harness a combination of analytical, institutional and political vantage points. He’s been able to pursue them all at Queen’s.
The School of Policy Studies will celebrate Dr. Courchene’s vibrant career this weekend with a dinner and a conference called “Thinking Outside the Box.” While he admits it will be a humbling experience, Dr. Courchene also says he is honoured it’s happening. He’s also thrilled that two of his children (his daughter and son-in-law are Queen’s alumni) and six grandchildren (two of whom still currently attend Queen’s) will be able to attend.
While Dr. Courchene will maintain his academic relationships after retirement, continuing to work with the School of Policy Studies as an adjunct professor, he’s looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Margie, and to getting in a few golf games with his family.