The department owes its existence to Prof Bidyadhar Misra and shall always remember him and cherish his memories with the highest regards. He obtained his MA degree from Patna University in 1942, receiving the university Gold medal for standing first in the first class. He went to London School of Economics and Political Science on a Government of India scholarship and did his PhD in 1955, under the guidance of Prof J R Raeburn. He started his academic career as a Lecturer in Economics from Gangadhar Meher College, Sambalpur in 1944. In 1956, he was appointed as a Reader in the newly created department of Rural Economics and Sociology in Utkal University, which was funded by the Ford Foundation. Initially the department was functioning at the Burdwan Kothi in Cuttack and was shifted to the new campus in Vani Vihar. Prof Misra, with the help and cooperation of the then honorary Director of the department Prof Sadasiv Misra, started building the department and introduced a Diploma in Social Science Research Methodology for PhD aspirants.
Subsequently he joined the department as a Professor in 1960 and steered it to become a full-fledged department of Analytical & Applied Economics in 1963. The objective was to turn the department into an advanced centre for teaching and research in Economics and to promote interdisciplinary research in collaboration with other allied subjects like Sociology, Statistics, Anthropology, Geography etc. Prof Misra was the Professor and Head of the department for a long period of 17 years, from 1960 till 1977. During his tenure, Statistics was incorporated into the PG syllabus as a full paper taking into account the importance of the subject in Economics. Later on mathematical Economics and Econometrics were introduced as Special papers as well. In the year 1977, he assumed the charge of Vice Chancellor of Utkal University and stayed as such for a full and glorious term for three years.
The 58th Annual Conference of Indian Economic Association in 1975 was hosted by the department under the able leadership of Prof Misra.
Prof Misra was a passionate teacher as well as a keen researcher. His areas of interest were agricultural economics, rural development, development economics and economics of poverty. He was a strict disciplinarian and enforced it in his place of work. He led the foundation of research in Economics in the state. Under his able guidance, 12 scholars obtained their PhD degrees. He insisted that the scholars should undertake macro studies with empirical support in areas less explored. Prof Misra has several funded research reports, papers and books to his credit. Besides, he also has authored many books in Odia literature. He was the recipient of Odisha Sahitya Academy Award in 1999.