The Walter J. Mead Chair in Economics

The Walter J. Mead Chair in Economics was established through a generous gift from Emeritus Professor Walter Mead and his wife, Thelma in 2008. A native Oregonian, Walter grew up in Salem and earned his B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Oregon in 1948 and 1952 respectively. He was the first University of Oregon student to earn a Ph.D. in Economics. Walter went on to a distinguished 32-year career as a professor of economics at UC Santa Barbara, retiring in 1991. In 1993, at its annual conference in Stavanger, Norway, the International Association of Energy Economists lauded him for his “outstanding contributions to the Profession of Energy Economics and its Literature.” Walter was also a past president of the Western Economics Association. 

The Mead Chair supports a permanent faculty position in the Department of Economics at UC Santa Barbara, with the goal of promoting excellence in research in the department.  

Walter J. Mead

Walter Mead


Ignacio Esponda

Ignacio Esponda is the current Mead chair holder. Professor Esponda is an economic theorist who specializes in studying learning by people with possibly misspecified models of the world and in integrating theoretical and experimental economics.  His work has been published in journals such as Econometrica, the American Economic Review and the RAND Journal of Economics.