News: Danny Boston to Retire After 33 Years at Georgia Tech
Posted December 19, 2018
Thomas “Danny” Boston joined the Georgia Institute of Technology as an associate professor more than 33 years ago in 1985. He left a position as chair of the economics department at Clark Atlanta University to join the Georgia Tech economics department when it was “a mere service program tucked away in the School of Industrial Management.” Once here, he contributed to the program’s evolution to the fully-fledged school that we know today.
Boston retires from the Institute January 1, 2019. We asked him to reflect on his years at Georgia Tech, which span the administrations of five presidents - Pettit, Bourne (interim), Crecine, Clough, and Peterson.
He was a close friend of the late President Pat Crecine, the visionary who created the Ivan Allen College, but whose leadership style caused great animosity — both toward him and the plan for the College.
“Pat was greatly scorned at the time from many quarters, yet his wisdom of creating liberal arts and social sciences at Georgia Tech has proven indispensably correct each day. Pat saw it as the most effective way in which Tech could continue to grow its enrollment in the future and, more importantly, respond to the increasingly diverse makeup of America and the world’s population. He was absolutely right!”
As an example of that impact, Boston shared a recent photo with current and past students who came together for his last class.
“We took a group picture. What is most striking about the photo is that the students represent almost every race and ethnic nationality. Such a picture would have been unthinkable before the creation of Ivan Allen College. The College is a gift to Georgia Tech and ultimately a notable contribution to the quality of our democracy. I hope the Institute continues to value its presence and contribution.”
Boston wrote or edited six books and numerous scholarly articles, and served as the principal investigator on one or more major research grants every year since being appointed at Georgia Tech.
Boston says that his most meaningful engagements have been his work on the policy front. He worked with local, state, national, and international agencies, including committees of Congress and the African Union, to help influence legislation and policies affecting minority and disadvantaged populations.
A national and international consultant, he more recently served as an advisor to the Nigerian National Assembly House Committee on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and South African Free State Legislature on MDGs.
For a number of years, he made regular appearances on CNN as an economics contributor, which built awareness for Georgia Tech’s program.
A longtime entrepreneur, Boston is the founder and CEO of EuQuant, an economic and market research company that specializes in providing data analytics and performance evaluations for government agencies, corporations, and non-profits. He received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Atlanta Business League. Leadership of the company will be turned over to his two children.
Boston says that his achievements in research and professional service are greatly outweighed by the satisfaction and inspiration he finds in teaching and interacting with students.
“For me, there’s nothing more inspirational in the university setting than the teaching and learning process. At the end of each class, I look for ways that the students have stimulated me to make my approach to teaching more effective. At the same time, I try to inspire them to become better persons, citizens, and students.”
He has been recognized for his teaching as Georgia Tech’s Undergraduate Professor of the Year, as the State of Georgia Economics Educator of the Year, and as a recipient of the Ivan Allen Jr Faculty Legacy Award given by the College.
Boston says that he is most proud of having been able to use his academic credentials to help improve the quality of life of minority and disadvantaged individuals.
“I grew up in the deeply segregated city of Jacksonville, Florida. There I was jailed when I was only 12 years old for joining a protest of segregated lunch counters in downtown department stores. Today the infamous event is known as “Axe handle Saturday” because we were assaulted by the Klan with axe handles (while the police watched) for simply demanding the right to be served where we shopped. From that moment forward, my goal in life was to try and make the benefits of democracy available to everyone, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or political philosophy. I chose to study economics not as an intellectual exercise, but as a vehicle for helping fulfill that mission. I am most proud that I have been blessed with the opportunity to make a small difference through public policy engagements in America and in Africa.”
After many years in economics, Boston transitioned to the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, both in Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.
“Spending the last few years of my career in the Nunn School has been magnificent. I am immensely grateful to Joe Bankoff, Dean Royster, and especially to the Nunn School faculty for allowing me to jump abroad. The INTA faculty has a special chemistry and I hope you will always keep it that way.”
As far as his future work during “retirement” is concerned, Boston says, “Since I wrote my dissertation decades ago, I have been very passionate about diving deeper into the intersection between race, entrepreneurship, and globalization — a process that started with the Age of European Exploration and is creating a world crisis today. I firmly believe that many of the solutions to the problems we face in this country reside in gaining a better understanding of the interplay among those dynamics. I intend to study them in much more depth during my retirement.”
Boston will remain on campus finishing research grants and shepherding three Ph.D. students to graduate. His wife, Regent’s Professor Catherine Ross, continues on faculty at Georgia Tech.
What will he miss most about Georgia Tech?
The answer to that question is easy — the students!” Boston said. “Nothing has been more satisfying than my interactions with students. Secondly, my faculty colleagues and many administrators at Tech. I will miss them professionally, but look forward to private interactions.”
“The Tech environment is special. It is a great place with lots of special people, all centered on teaching, learning, and research —with some fun added in. Academia trumps all other environments, including the government sector and private enterprise. That is why so many retired professionals seek appointments in the universities. It is unique and I will miss it.”