Time to Say Goodbye

Dolf Talman is professor of Game Theory and Equilibrium Programming at Tilburg University (TiSEM) and CentER. His expertise is the development, to prove existence and the computation of equilibria in economic and game theoretic models.

This will be my last column for Nekst. Not only because I was asked last year to write a column only for this academic year, which has almost ended, but also because I am retiring.

Maybe the most I enjoyed during my academic life was supervising students, and then in particular PhD students. During the supervision you see students growing and becoming more mature, they listen, learn, and come up with ideas. Some are good and other are maybe less good, from which they even may learn more. That also holds for doing scientific research, ninety percent of the ideas do not work or are later improved, but the ten percent of ideas that survive form the basis of publications. Many students are somewhat annoyed in the beginning because what they propose and discuss is not good enough or has been done by others. You have to tell them then what is good about it and how they could proceed. For Modelling In Practice, or Improving Society Lab as it is called now, the bachelor thesis, and the master thesis, the contact with a student is never more than half a year. Often even much shorter, not more than three months. However, with PhD students the contact is much longer and more intense.

PhD students at TiSEM typically follow first a research master program in either economics or business of two years at CentER first after their bachelor or master degree. The first year aims to teach the fundamentals for research in economics and business, in which you learn the basic tools and theories. During the first semester of the second year you choose from a long list of topics courses the ones you are interested in. At the end of that semester you choose a supervisor to write a research master thesis. This thesis is often the starting point of your PhD research and if you are admitted to become a PhD student you have three or sometimes four years to write a dissertation. In this way you have contact with the student during four or more years. Over the years I have supervised PhD students from all over the world, mainly from China and the Netherlands. Most of them stayed in academia and some later on became professor, two of them, a Chinese and a Dutchman, even at the same university, in York, although within different schools.

With all my former PhD students I still have contact and most of them will visit Tilburg when I leave. Although I formally retire on July 3, when I reach my official retirement age, which happens to be my 66th birthday. I will leave Tilburg University on September 21. That day I will give my valedictory address, at 4 pm in the auditorium, and there will be a mini-symposium in the afternoon before my speech. At this symposium three of my former PhD students, one Chinese and two Dutchmen, will speak. The two Dutchmen studied Econometrics at Tilburg University and are therefore alumni of the university.  Although I am not an alumnus of Tilburg University, I have been administrator of the alumni association for econometricians (VAET) for the last 27 years. Once a year the VAET organizes a meeting around some EOR-theme. I hope that after you have finished your studies you also become a member and come back to university once a year.

Over the years I enjoyed teaching and supervising a lot and I received many rewards, including the funniest and best-dressed teacher-award, but now it is time to retire and make place for younger people. I hope to  see you at September 21.