University of Pittsburgh
February 13, 2013

Influential Economist and Former Pitt Professor to Hold Book Signing Of Her Recently Published Memoir Feb. 20 at Pitt’s Hillman Library

Author Marina von Neumann Whitman, former Council of Economic Advisers member, is daughter of mathematics genius who invented game theory

Sharon Blake


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PITTSBURGH—Marina von Neumann Whitman, former Distinguished Public Service Professor of Economics at the University of Pittsburgh and the first woman to serve on the Council of Economic Advisers under President Richard Nixon, will participate in a book signing of her memoir from 4 to 6 p.m., Feb. 20, in the University of Pittsburgh’s Dick Thornburgh Room, first floor, Hillman Library, 3960 Forbes Ave., Oakland. The event, hosted by Pitt’s University Library System and Department of Economics, will include a question-and-answer session and is free and open to the public.

Whitman is the only child of Hungarian-American scientific genius John von Neumann (1903-57), often hailed as the greatest mathematician of the 20th century and as the greatest scientist after Einstein. The inventor of game theory, he was one of five scientific geniuses dubbed “the Martians” by colleagues. In her book, The Martian’s Daughter: A Memoir (University of Michigan Press, 2012), Whitman reveals intimate details about her famous father, her cosmopolitan upbringing, the demanding expectations of her parents, and how her own struggles to emerge from the shadow of a larger-than-life parent shaped her life and work.

At Pitt, Whitman began her career in 1962 as a research assistant and then an instructor; she gradually rose through the ranks of the economics faculty to Distinguished Public Service Professor. She created the International Economics Workshop at Pitt, which remains a lively forum for researchers in that field. In addition to pursuing her academic work, Whitman helped spearhead U.S. efforts to reshape the international monetary system in the 1970s and pioneered the idea of women on the boards of multinational corporations. She left Pitt in 1979 to take a position as an executive and chief economist for General Motors Corporation. Since 1992, she has been a professor of business administration and public policy at the University of Michigan.

“Marina was key to strengthening Pitt’s international economics program and making it one of the top economics programs in the United States,” said James Cassing, Pitt professor of economics and a longtime friend and associate.

Paul Volcker, former chair of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System, calls The Martian’s Daughter: A Memoir “a fascinating saga of an exceptionally talented family, initially focused on a mathematical genius but ultimately growing in diversity and influence.

“Marina Whitman may be the daughter of a Martian, but she is an exemplar of the best in America,” he added.

Whitman received a bachelor’s degree in government from Radcliffe College (now Harvard University) and her master’s and PhD degrees in economics from Columbia University. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships, honors, and awards and holds honorary degrees from more than 20 colleges and universities.