Women of Scripps: Sylvia Nasar

By Lauren Prince ’14, Editor in Chief

Last Thursday, Nov. 10, the celebrated Sylvia Nasar arrived on campus for a visit full of events. A former New York Times columnist, staff writer at Fortune and U.S. News & World Report who currently holds the James S. and John L. Knight Professorship of business journalism at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Nasar came to talk to Scripps students and faculty alike.

Nasar, renowned author of A Beautiful Mind, was brought to campus by the Malott Commons Speaker Series and was welcomed in true Scripps College fashion. An intimate dinner with roughly 20 students and faculty members preceded her lecture in Garrison Theater Thursday night. The following morning, Nasar met again with a small group of students for a discussion. Nasar’s new book, Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius, was published this September and traces the history of economic thought.

With all the publicity, forethought and planning that went into her visit, there were less than 80 people in Garrison Theater for her lecture—a surprisingly small attendance for the hype it received and the excitement floating around Claremont. The week prior, the film adaption of A Beautiful Mind was screened so students would have Nasar’s most famous work fresh in their minds.

Nasar’s lecture had a positive tone. She explained that, despite the economic rollercoaster our nation has been facing these past few years, she has faith in our generation. Even as college graduates fight to enter the workforce, Nasar “does not worry about [us].”

She discussed her ideas about how the government could and should be doing more to fight the recession. She thinks the Federal Reserve did a good job, but they did not do everything they could. Because the Federal Reserve is independent, Nasar believes it might not have the necessary political support needed to properly solve the economic recession. Nasar believes the current stimulus package was not designed well, because Congresspeople rather than economists designed it. She said that the origin of the recession was a result of the accruement of debts that could not be paid, not with social inequality as society seems to think. Nasar explained that inequality had been happening over a long period of time, but the crash was sudden.

Students—mostly economics majors—as well as Professors Sean Flynn and Patricia Dillon were in attendance in Denison Library for an intimate discussion with Nasar on Friday morning. Nasar let those in attendance know her writing process, including how she got the idea for her new book, how she researched and the fact that her new book took 11 years to write. A Beautiful Mind took two and a half years. The discrepancy came from the problems she had in deciding how to organize this story.