Religion Professor Designs Diwali Stamp
Vasudha Narayanan, distinguished professor of religion, played an instrumental role as a consultant in bringing a new Forever stamp to the United States Postal Services’ selection: the Diwali commemoration stamp. Diwali (from Sanskrit Deepavali, or “necklace of lights”) is a five-day festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and some Buddhists that honors the triumph of good over evil. The festival, which marks the beginning of the new year for some practitioners, occurs on the new moon between mid-October and mid-November. This year, the main day occurred on October 29 for South Indians and October 30 for North Indians. The stamp shows a diya, a clay lamp with a wick soaked in ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil. The stamp was released on October 5 and officially dedicated at the Indian embassy in New York City. The stamp, Narayanan says, “clearly articulated ideas of joy, dignity, and hope — all in one image.”
The Economics PhD Returns
The Department of Economics, once housed in the College of Business, found a new home in the College of Liberal Arts in 2014. Professor of Economics and graduate coordinator Steven Slutsky says economics departments moving from business to liberal arts colleges is a national trend and that it’s a natural fit as there are several intersections of economics with both the social and natural sciences, such as political science, geography, and mathematics.
This year, after a five-year hiatus of not having a graduate program, UF economics admitted 11 new PhD students. “We were worried that students would be reticent about applying,” says Slutsky, “but we got a very strong applicant pool.”
Department chair Roger Blair says he’s pleased that the new class is geographically and ethnically diverse. He says, “They are all strong in mathematics, which is what you need to succeed in economics.” Ideally, Blair says, the program aims to admit 12 to 15 PhD students each year.
“We are very happy,” says Slutsky, “that the restart of the PhD program did not hurt our ability to attract solid candidates.”