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Former BBER director Witt honored with national awards


The former director of West Virginia University's Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) was among honorees presented with national awards recently by the Association for University Business and Economic Research (AUBER).

AUBER honored five universities and select individuals at its annual conference, including Dr. Tom Witt, who was named the recipient of the Thayne Robson Award. The Thayne Robson Award is the highest honor that AUBER awards to an individual for long-time commitment and service to the organization, as well as being an economic and public policy leader in their state. Only three awards have been given since it was instituted.

"I am truly honored by my selection for this award," said Witt. "This award is named after the director of the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, who I met at my first AUBER meeting in Salt Lake City in 1985. Thus, it has a special meaning to me."

The AUBER conference was recently held in Honolulu, Hawaii, and hosted by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO). Awards for Excellence in Publications, as well as recognition for leadership and contributions to AUBER, were presented at the conference. AUBER is a professional association of business and economic research organizations at public and private universities, and consists of 100 leading university-based economic research centers.

"We are very happy for Tom, who essentially forged the BBER into what it is today," said Dr. Jose Sartarelli, Milan Puskar Dean, WVU College of Business and Economics (B&E), which operates the bureau. "Tom laid the foundation for the BBER, and we will continue to build upon it after his retirement."

Witt joined the College of B&E faculty in 1970 and retired in June of this year. He has continued to work part-time on funded research projects and is Professor of Economics Emeritus.

He earned a Ph.D. in economics from Washington University-St. Louis in 1974, a master's in economics there in 1968 and a bachelor's in economics from Oklahoma State University in 1966. Witt served as associate dean for research and outreach at B&E from 1994-2006 and 2008-12, and director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research since 1986. He became a professor of economics in 1980 after serving as acting assistant dean of the WVU Graduate School from 1977-78.

Witt's research spans regional economics, public finance and policy, economic development, public school finance, business of forensics and energy economics. He has co-authored and edited two books and has numerous publications in academic journals and research monographs. He served as principal or co-investigator on more than $7 million in sponsored research.

As BBER director, he may be best known for the BBER's economic forecasts. He organized and produced state and regional economic outlook conferences that attracted thousands of attendees during his tenure. He regularly appeared before the West Virginia Legislature to report on the bureau's research and currently serves on the Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways.

As a professor of economics, Witt taught both graduate and undergraduate classes. He received outstanding teaching awards from the university in 1977 and 1981. The State Journal named Witt as the 10th Most Influential Leader shaping West Virginia in 2011. The publication also selected him in 2000 for "Who's Who in West Virginia Business." Witt is a member of the American Economic Association and the National Association for Business Economics.