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Becker gift to benefit doctoral students

on Tue, 09/16/2008 - 08:00

Doctoral students studying economics at West Virginia University will have the opportunity to be part of a unique fellowship program designed to engage students directly in public policy research. The fellowships were established through a gift from an alumni couple.

The W. Marston (Marty) and Katharine B. Becker Doctoral Fellows Endowment will provide a $20,000 annual stipend for a student to work on research relevant to West Virginia economic policy while pursuing doctoral studies.

"Kathy and I hope the recipients of this fellowship will contribute to growing and strengthening West Virginia's economy, improving our competitiveness in the nation and world, and helping to build consensus with our state's leaders on the best policies to accomplish these goals," said Marty Becker. "A strong and vibrant economy is essential to improving the lives of all West Virginians."

Students will be selected for the fellowship based on their ability to communicate basic economic principles through research on state policy. Fellows will be expected to engage in the ongoing dialogue on state economic policy through public speaking opportunities and news commentary and publications.

"The W. Marston and Katharine B. Becker Doctoral Fellowship not only provides critical support for the doctoral program in economics, it also serves the state with practical input on public policy issues as part of a larger University supervised program," said William Trumbull, interim dean of WVU's College of Business and Economics.

WVU has some of the nation's premier faculty members in the field of free market thought, he added, and students will be selected for the fellowship by those conducting this research and teaching about its principles. Free market thought is the study of how private markets function, their role in economic growth, the process of entrepreneurship, and how greater use of free markets may help to solve social problems through deregulation and privatization.

Marty Becker currently serves as chairman and CEO of Max Capital Group Ltd., a global company that provides a wide range of specialty insurance and reinsurance products for corporations, public entities, property and casualty insurers and life and health insurers. He is also chairman and general partner of West Virginia Media Holdings, LLC, which owns The State Journal and several television stations across the state.

Becker graduated from WVU in 1974 with a bachelor's degree in business administration and earned his law degree from WVU in 1977. He is a member of WVU's Academy of Distinguished Alumni and a former member of the WVU Foundation board of directors.

Kathy Becker graduated from WVU in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in business administration and a minor in political science. She served as executive assistant to former West Virginia Congressman Cleve Benedict and administrative assistant for federal relations to former Gov. Arch A. Moore, Jr.