Oregon man, 79, to receive doctorate

Aug. 21, 2006 at 12:28 PM

CHICAGO, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- An Oregon man who spent most of his life growing strawberries is set to become the oldest person ever to receive a doctorate from the University of Chicago.

Herbert Baum, 79, will be awarded a doctorate in economics Friday from a school known for producing many Nobel laureates in that field, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Baum, a native of Fort Wayne, Ind., received a master's degree in economics from the University of Chicago in 1951 but left academia for California after deciding he didn't have a good topic for his dissertation.

After retiring in 1991, Baum decided to turn his lifelong effort to produce the perfect strawberry into a book and forwarded the material to university Professor James Heckman, a 2000 Nobel Prize winner, the Sun-Times said.

Heckman thought Baum's book could qualify as a dissertation and formed a committee featuring three Nobel laureates, including Milton Friedman.

Baum's dissertation on the quest for the perfect strawberry was praised by Heckman as "a serious piece of research on a major agricultural industry," the newspaper said.

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