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Now that he has his Ph.D., he just needs to find a job as an assistant professor

The U of C economics Ph.D. program is hardly known as a place where dreams come true. It is a tough program that breaks the spirit of many who attempt it. Courtesy of Herbert Baum, here is the feel-good story of the year coming out of U of C economics.

The story starts 60 years ago when Herbert Baum first entered the Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago. Baum dropped out of the program in 1960 without finishing his dissertation. He then went on to be a successful businessman in the strawberry industry. After retiring, he decided it was time to finish his degree. There was one big problem, though. Economics has changed a lot since 1960. Baum’s dissertation wasn’t mathematical, it was an economic history of the strawberry industry. After the required amount of academic squabbling (it even required bringing Milton Friedman out of retirement), the decision was made to give Baum his Ph.D.

The Chicago Tribune wrote a very amusing story about it. I believe you have to register with the Tribune (free of charge) to read it. The Chicago Sun Times also has a story which you can access online.

If you get to the end of the Chicago Tribune article, you will see that Baum not only has a Ph.D., he has great taste in books as well.