Leading Economist Teaches Students Rules for Success

Dr. McKinney addressing Perkins students.

Dr. Fred McKinney spoke to Perkins high school students today as part of our ongoing inspiring speakers series. Dr. McKinney is the current Managing Director of the Minority Business Programs at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Prior to his time at Dartmouth, he served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Business and Brandeis University’s Heller School for the Advanced Studies of Social Policy. He also spent a year at the White House- during Jimmy Carter’s term- as a Junior Economist. He holds a B.A. in economics from UCLA and a Ph.D. in Economics from Yale. Although the accolades are many, the path he took was rife with difficulties. Haling from Pine Bluff, Arkansas Dr. McKinney has seen a lot of life in his 63 years and has come a long way from being a cotton farmer in Arkansas.

“My grandparents were cotton farmers in the delta of Mississippi,” he explained. “Based on where I came from and what I had to overcome, I should not be this successful. I didn’t know where I was going in the tenth grade. I had low aspirations back then, but happily, I was willing to listen to teachers and family who helped me raise my aspirations.”

Dr. McKinney explained that the secret to his success came through four traits: be willing to listen to yourself and others, let your passion be your guide, be creative, and be self-aware.  “When I was in college at UCLA, I met Nobel Prize winner James Tobin who offered me his business card and told me to contact him if I decided I wanted to go on to graduate school.  I called him. From that call, I made it into the Yale graduate school of economics.”

As years have passed, McKinney has continued to be successful and grow.I am always looking for what is next in life. “Do not fear the future,” he told Perkins students. “As long as you are passionate and well-intentioned, good things will come to you.”