When James Langenfeld, MA ’75, PhD ’83, came to Washington University as a graduate student, he intended to focus his studies on urban and regional economics. But as he soon discovered, life doesn’t always follow a planned path.
“It was clear based on supply and demand that professional opportunities in those areas would be limited down the road,” Mr. Langenfeld says. “Thankfully, one of my professors at the time, Rick Warren-Boulton, was a leading expert in industrial organization and regulation. I never would have pursued a PhD in the field without his inspiration. I am grateful to the university for pointing me in the direction that would be most beneficial and successful.”
To show his appreciation, Mr. Langenfeld has contributed $2 million to establish an endowed professorship in Arts & Sciences. The James Langenfeld Professorship in Industrial Organization will be held by a Department of Economics faculty member who works in affiliation with the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy.
“This meaningful gift from an exceptional alumnus will have an important impact across Arts & Sciences,” says Barbara Schaal, the Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor and dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences. “It will enable us to strengthen our economics faculty by recruiting an outstanding scholar in the area of industrial organization and also to advance the Weidenbaum Center’s mission to address critical policy issues at the intersection of
government and business.”
Mr. Langenfeld is a longtime supporter of the Weidenbaum Center. Though he never took a class taught by center founder Murray Weidenbaum, he served as the celebrated economics professor’s research assistant. “He taught me a huge amount,” Mr. Langenfeld says. “The Weidenbaum Center funded my dissertation on automobile regulation. The center was the first to look at government-mandated price increases and the hidden costs of regulation. Murray was a champion for this project and shined a light on it like no one else had.”
Mr. Langenfeld says his Washington University education provided a strong foundation for a career that has spanned multiple arenas. He has held leadership positions with consulting firms, completed several stints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), including five years as director of antitrust for the agency’s Bureau of Economics, and worked as a senior economist for General Motors. A longtime resident of Chicago, he moved to Washington, D.C., four years ago to serve as senior managing director at Ankura, a leading business advisory firm.
Currently an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, Mr. Langenfeld previously taught at three other universities, including Washington University. He has published more than 130 scholarly articles.
Among the highlights of his career, he says, is outreach he conducted while working for the FTC in the 1990s. “I spent a lot of time helping central and eastern European countries move toward market-based economies. It was very rewarding.”
Mr. Langenfeld has received multiple awards for his work, including the Senior Executive Service Meritorious Service Award from the president of the United States and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the FTC’s Distinguished Service Award. Washington University presented him with a Distinguished Alumni Award during Founders Day in November.
“My education opened so many doors,” Mr. Langenfeld says. “Washington University helped me discover my talents and interests. It gave me the opportunity to grow and mature personally, academically, and professionally. I had the time of my life there.”