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Notable Academic Honored with Gary C. Cornia Lecture Series Award

Receiving an award in Gary C. Cornia’s name felt personally meaningful to Sally Wallace, especially since Cornia is one of her role models. Wallace, the dean of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University (GSU), was honored as this year’s Gary C. Cornia Lecture Series Award recipient at a banquet held on October 28, 2021. Cornia was a former dean of the BYU Marriott School of Business.

Sally Wallace, the 2021 Gary C. Cornia Lecture Series Award recipient; Gary C. Cornia, a former dean of BYU Marriott; and Lori Wadsworth, the MPA director of the Romney Institute.
Pictured from left to right: Sally Wallace, the 2021 Gary C. Cornia Lecture Series Award recipient; Gary C. Cornia, a former dean of BYU Marriott; and Lori Wadsworth, the MPA director of the Romney Institute.

At the banquet, Wallace spoke to faculty members from the Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics about a variety of subjects, including current changes in the public sector, the increased need for teaching digital skills in the classroom, and the benefits of community partnership in research. “Partnering with the community is so important when conducting research,” she said. “We need to shift our mindset from studying communities to studying with communities.”

Prior to becoming dean of the Andrew Young School in 2018, Wallace served as the director of the school’s Fiscal Research Center for seven years. She considers the center to be an example of studying with communities. “At the Fiscal Research Center, we focus on doing meaningful, quality work,” she explains. “We present information about complicated public policy issues in a way that legislators understand, which provides opportunities for us as researchers to give back to the community.”

Looking to the future, Wallace hopes to introduce more opportunities in the classroom for students to gain digital economy skills—including by learning about data, artificial intelligence, and technology—in ways that contribute to the public good. “Students don’t need to be computer scientists, but they need to understand how to use digital tools, ask questions about research outcomes, and be good stewards of the public and nonprofit sectors,” she told the banquet attendees.

Preparing students for the future is a central focus for Wallace. She constantly thinks about how both she and her faculty members are responsible for developing the next generation of policy makers and business leaders. “I hope to encourage students to develop the skills and foresight necessary for success in their careers and in their capacity to do social good,” she adds.

Wallace has worked closely with students for almost her entire career. She earned her PhD in economics in 1988 at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. Prior to her time at GSU, she was a financial economist with the Office of Tax Analysis in the United States Treasury Department from 1988–91. She joined the GSU staff in 1991 as an assistant professor of economics and also served as the department chair for five years.

Wallace is grateful to receive an award in Cornia’s name, having worked closely with him in the past. “Gary is the epitome of what I think a public servant, researcher, and academic should be, and he does everything with kindness and humility. Receiving this award in his name, knowing what kind of man he is and what he has contributed to the world, is truly humbling for me,” she says. “I’m so thankful for the opportunity to come and speak at BYU Marriott.”

“Sally Wallace is an outstanding academic and dean who has significantly impacted her university and the world with her research,” says Cornia. “She is, above all else, an excellent person.”

The Gary C. Cornia Lecture Series Award is presented annually by the Romney Institute. The lecture series aims to host distinguished scholars from outside BYU Marriott to help broaden and refine the influence of the Romney Institute.


Writer: Sarah Calvert