LSE names building in honour of St Lucia’s first Nobel Prize winner
One of the buildings at London School of Economics (LSE) has been officially renamed after Sir William Arthur Lewis (1915–1991), who was the School’s first black academic and the winner of the Nobel Prize in economics. He studied, taught, and did research at the School.
The Sir Arthur Lewis Building (SAL), which used to be called 32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields (32L), is now home to several LSE departments, such as the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP), the International Growth Centre (IGC), the Department of Economics, the Centre for Macroeconomics, and the Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD).
On Thursday, March 23, 2023, Sir Arthur Lewis’s daughter and granddaughter, as well as the High Commissioner for St. Lucia, attended a ceremony to reveal the new name of the building.
LSE President and Vice Chancellor Minouche Shafik gave a speech at the event that talked about Sir Arthur Lewis’ ongoing legacy at LSE and the lasting contributions he has made to development economics.
Lewis was born in St. Lucia in 1915. He won a government scholarship to study in Britain and moved there in 1933 to get his B.Com. He got a First-Class degree in 1937, and he was given a scholarship to help him get his PhD in Industrial Economics.
Lewis learned from John Hicks, Arnold Plant, Lionel Robbins, and Friedrich Hayek while he was at LSE. He was a member of staff from 1938 to 1948 and became a School Reader in Colonial Economics in 1947. He was the first black academic at the LSE. He was called “one of our best teachers.”
Lewis became a full professor at Manchester University in 1948. He left in 1957 to help the government of Ghana, which had just become independent. He was the head of University College of the West Indies before becoming the university’s first Vice Chancellor.
In 1963, he was made a knight, and from 1963 to 1983, he taught at Princeton University. He also headed up the Caribbean Development Bank.
Lewis won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1979 for “pioneering research on economic development, with a focus on the problems of developing countries.” In 1991, he died in Bridgetown, Barbados.
LSE President and Vice Chancellor Minouche Shafik said this about the renaming: “Sir Arthur Lewis was a pioneer in the field of development economics and an excellent student, teacher, and researcher at LSE. We are delighted to rename one of our buildings after him in recognition of his exemplary career and enduring legacy, both at LSE and beyond.”
Professor Sir Tim Besley from the Department of Economics added, “Nobody who studies development issues can fail to appreciate Arthur Lewis’s legacy and how he framed development challenges as a process of structural change. We honour that legacy at LSE to this day with a dedicated cadre of economists who study development and growth issues. And we have many students from all over the world who come to the LSE study and research in development following in Arthur Lewis’s footsteps.”
Lee Yan is a journalist based in Cebu, Philippines. For the past 10 years, he has worked in the media and writes part-time for the St. Vincent Times.