“Economic growth is crucial for the prosperity of any country and I am honoured to receive this prestigious accolade from a university of stature such as the University of Johannesburg (UJ). I have respect for the University, and I’m grateful to be honoured by means of an Honorary Degree that binds me to this Institution that shares my passion for economics.” These were the sentiment of the 2003 Nobel laureate in economics, Prof Robert Fry Engle on Monday, 19 February 2018.
The University conferred an honorary doctorate on Prof Engle in recognition of his pioneering discovery of a method for analysing unpredictable movements in financial market prices and interest rates. This method, employed by private and public sector economic researchers and practitioners operating as financial markets analysts and economic decision-makers, has become indispensable.
Speaking ahead of the conferral, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UJ, Prof Tshildzi Marwala highlighted the significance of such an Honorary Degree – both to the recipient and to the University, pointing out that an Honorary Doctorate is conferred upon an individual as an acknowledgement for his notable contributions to a specific field or outstanding service to society, which relates to the University’s vision, mission, values and strategic goals and objectives.
“Association with the University forms part of the reason why we confer an Honorary Doctorate,” said Prof Marwala.
The University’s Executive Dean of the College of Business and Economics (CBE), Prof Daneel van Lill pointed out that Africa’s aim to achieve 5% economic growth by 2021 depends on connecting African economies to one another, and to those of Asia, Europe and the rest of the world.
The fact remains that Africa needs more trade than aid and consequently needs more competent managers to manage and lead the flow of goods and services. This means regional integration, realised in the form of International trade; financial integration via the movement of capital; the flow of knowledge and information; and the flow of movement of people, inclusive of tourists, international students, and highly skilled workers.
Prof Engle’s research has also brought into being, innovative statistical methods such as co-integration, common features, autoregressive conditional duration and more recently, dynamic conditional correlation models.
“UJ as a new-generation university of choice anchored in Africa, seeks to continuously deliver its strengths in serving pan-African ideals. The presence of Prof Rob Engle draws attention to the committed efforts of UJ’s School of Economics to equip our students with high-level applied econometric competence to the benefit of private and public organisations involved in the repurposing of the African continent,” said Prof van Lill.
Prof Engle concluded: “I’m fortunate to be in South Africa in a time of excitement and new possibilities and I applaud UJ for its leading play in improving education for its students, for South Africa and the pan-African agenda. South Africa is a beacon to Africa and I believe that UJ is a beacon as well. I am privileged to have been welcomed to the exclusive community of illustrious figures upon whom UJ’s honorary doctorate is conferred.”