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World Bank official discusses new economic forces

April 10, 2006

KALAMAZOO--A high-ranking World Bank official and Western Michigan University graduate is coming back to his alma mater Wednesday, April 12, to talk about the world's new economic powerhouses and to meet with faculty and staff.

Dr. Vinod Thomas, who earned a master's degree in economics from WMU in 1971 and a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Chicago in 1974, will deliver a free public lecture at 3 p.m. in Room 3508 of Knauss Hall. His talk is titled "New Directions in Development: Brazil, India and China." He also will deliver a luncheon talk earlier in the day for faculty and staff. His visit is sponsored by the WMU Department of Economics and is through the WMU Visiting Scholars & Artists Program.

Thomas has served in several capacities with the World Bank since 1976 and is currently director-general of operations evaluation. From 2001 to 2005, he held the position of country director, Brazil. In that capacity, he was responsible for one of the World Bank's largest portfolios of lending, policy and analytical work.

Prior to that, Thomas served as vice president of WBI--the World Bank Institute--which is the training arm of the World Bank. He was responsible for the bank's principal vehicle for delivering timely knowledge in member countries through seminars, conferences and a variety of print, broadcast and multimedia products.

Thomas' expertise includes knowledge sharing and training, trade policy, macroeconomic adjustment, macrosectoral links, environmental policy, agricultural policy, urban economics and poverty measures. Prior to heading the WBI, Thomas held positions as chief economist for the World Bank in East Asia and the Pacific region, chief economist for Asia, staff director for the 1991 World Development Report, chief of trade policy and principal economist for Colombia.

From 1979 to 1981, he was a visiting professor and advisor for urban studies at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. Before joining the World Bank, he lectured at Vassar College. He has written numerous books, articles and reports. His most recent book, published by the World Bank and Stanford University Press, is titled "From Inside Brazil: Development in a Land of Contrasts."

The Visiting Scholars and Artists Program at WMU was established in 1960 and has supported more than 571 visits by scholars and artists representing more than 67 academic disciplines. The committee that oversees the program is co-chaired by Ellen Van Arsdale, faculty specialist in the Bronson School of Nursing, and Troy Place, faculty specialist in the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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