Interview with Taun Toay

15 April 2014 met with Taun Toay, Associate Vice President, Bard College and Research Analyst at the Levy Economics Institute. Mr. Toay was a US Fulbright student in 2005/2006 on Economics and last November he coordinated a major conference at the Athens Concert Hall on "The Eurozone Crisis, Greece and the Experience of Austerity."

Mr. Toay, can you tell us a few things about yourself and your current role at the Levy Economics Institute?

Following the Fulbright, I returned to the U.S. to work in a research position and complete graduate school. I obtained my M.Phil in Economics from the New School for Social Research in Manhattan and I am working on completing my PhD which looks at empirical cases of wealth mobility in the United States. My work at the Levy Institute, an economic think-tank on the campus of Bard College, is as a research analyst working on macroeconomic modeling and gender-aware analysis. I have also served as a visiting lecturer in the economics department at Bard College and co-edited The Burden of Our Times: The Intellectual Origins of the Global Financial Crisis (with R. Berkowitz). While at Levy, I have co-authored a number of papers and reports on the Greek economy and post-crisis policy solutions.

You were a 2005/2006 US Fulbright student to Greece at the University of Piraeus. Can you briefly describe the program? In what ways would you say it has influenced your life and career path?

As an affiliate of the University of Piraeus, where I worked primarily with Theodore Pelagidis, my work examined the socioeconomic impacts of inflation patterns surrounding the adoption of the euro. The work had a profound influence on my career trajectory, giving me both insight into the Greek economy and polishing my empirical abilities on issues of inequality and purchasing power.

What was your Fulbright experience in Greece like? What are some of the things you took back with you?

Greece is an amazing country, with a warmth in its culture and people that is unrivaled. My experience there was wonderful, both personally and professionally. The Fulbright opened doors to people in Greece and the United States that would have been very difficult to access in the absence of that endorsement. Furthermore, carrying the Fulbright credential is something that still serves me well professionally and I connection that I have with a wealth of scholars from all disciplines. Often in academia, I am sharing my Fulbright experience with others.

I have great empathy for the fallout from the austerity that Greece is currently enduring. I know the Greeks to be a resourceful and resilient populous, but it is still difficult to see the current depression unfold. Chief among the many things that I took back from my time there was a great affinity for the Greek people and a renewed appreciation for the importance of family.

What is next for you?

Last year I was appointed Associate Vice President of Bard College, where I am involved in the financial oversight and risk management of the college. It is already proving a very rewarding job, as Bard functions in a very entrepreneurial--yet progressive--way. Despite a 150 year history, the College continues to take large risks in education and that creates a culture that is exciting to work within. There is plenty here to keep me busy for the foreseeable future. Beyond that, I am overdue for a trip to Athens and the islands.

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