Michael L. Walden, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of economics at North Carolina State University, received the Award for Excellence in Public Service today from the Board of Governors of the multi-campus University of North Carolina. The award, announced during the Board’s regular October meeting, was established in 2007 to encourage, identify, recognize, and reward distinguished public service and outreach by faculty across the University. The 2010 award carries a $7,500 cash prize and was presented by UNC President Erskine Bowles and Public Service Award Committee Chairman Charles Hayes of Sanford.
Walden, who has taught at NC State for the past 32 years, is arguably the most recognized economist in North Carolina. An award-winning teacher and researcher, he also pioneered the use of mass media in extension programming to help average citizens understand complex economic principals and relationships so that they can make better decisions about their own lives. In addition to his classroom teaching, he writes and broadcasts a daily commercial radio program, writes a biweekly column carried by more than 40 newspapers, conducts a monthly call-in radio program, and publishes biannual economic forecasts for the state and its regions. Over the past three decades, he has delivered more than 1,200 public workshops, conducted more than 10,000 radio broadcasts and interviews, written 700 columns, and appeared on more than 600 television programs.
Over the course of his career, Walden has been called on by North Carolina governors, legislators, and local government leaders to advise various study commissions, task forces, and public policy groups about economic issues. He also served on the Scholars Council of the UNC Tomorrow Commission, which identified how the University system can best meet the changing needs of the state in the years ahead. His economic models have been adopted and used by the NC Department of Commerce in recruiting businesses to the state, and his recommendations have been applied to state and local tax structure changes. He also has written eight books, including North Carolina in the Connected Age: Challenges and Opportunities in a Globalizing Economy.
Walden’s commitment to public service and his ongoing efforts to address real-world problems in the state have earned him numerous honors, including NC State’s Outstanding Extension Award, two Champion-Tuck Media Awards for Economic Understanding, and a litany of awards for extension programming from regional and national agricultural economics associations, the NC Association of County Commissioners, and the NC Association of Certified Public Accountants. He was also one of the first inductees into NC State’s Academy of Outstanding Faculty Engaged in Extension.