MSU Economics Department Newsletter Spring 2011
The French have a saying, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, meaning “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” For the MSU Economics Department, nothing could be further from the truth! We’ve experienced tremendous changes in the last couple of years—some retirements, some new faces, new challenges, some new beginnings—and things are far from the same; they’re better! (I suppose some things do stay the same—the department continues to be a great place to work, and the faculty continue to be innovative, productive and BUSY).
L to R, First Row: Mahua Mitra (Professor), Sharmistha Self (Associate Professor), Sandra Wilkins (Administrative Assistant), Julie Gallaway (Senior Instructor), Christina Robinson (Assistant Professor). Second Row: Faisal Rabby (Instructor), Ardeshir Dalal (Professor and Head), Terrel Gallaway (Associate Professor), Tom Wyrick (Professor). Third Row: Per Norander (Instructor), John Hoftyzer (Professor), David Mitchell (Associate Professor).
Over the last two years, the composition of the faculty has changed dramatically. In fact, at the start of the 2010-11 academic year we had six faculty members—out of a total of twelve full-time faculty—who were hired at the start of the 2008-09 academic year or later, and the most recent group photograph of the Department (reproduced below), taken as recently as the end of the spring 2010 semester, is already out of date.
Faculty members in the photograph who joined the department within the last two years include three instructors (Julie Gallaway, Faisal Rabby and Per Norander) and the current Head (Ardeshir Dalal), all hired in 2008, and a tenure track assistant professor (Christina Robinson) who joined us in fall 2009. Christina earned her PhD from North Carolina State University and specializes in Industrial Organization and Health Care Economics. The most recent addition to the faculty, another tenure track assistant professor, Gabriela Best, is not in the group photograph; she joined the Department only in fall 2010. Gabriela’s PhD is from the University of California at Irvine and her areas of specialization are Econometrics and Macroeconomics.
Our two newest faculty members; Christina Robinson
and Gabriela Best
Both have hit the ground running! Christina has already had two papers accepted for publication and has presented four others at conferences. She teaches courses in Microeconomics, Labor Economics, Health Care Economics and Industrial Organization. Gabriela has presented work based on her dissertation in Mexico and at Washington University in St. Louis. She teaches courses in Macroeconomics and Econometrics.
Two people in the group photograph have retired since it was taken. They are John Hoftyzer and Sandra (Sandy) Wilkins. Both were associated with the Economics Department for a very long time. John joined the Department in 1987 and served as Head for the next 13 years, after which he assumed the teaching and research responsibilities of a full professor in the Department. Sandy served as the Department’s Administrative Assistant for 14 years. Both will be missed, and we wish both of them a happy and fulfilling retirement!
On a personal note, I want to express my gratitude to both John and Sandy for the help and support they gave me when I arrived at MSU as a new Head, blissfully ignorant of the bewildering, and often arcane, maze of procedures and paperwork that I was to encounter. Sandy helped me master (or at least develop a passing familiarity with) the mysteries of PAFs, P-Cards and Payment Requests, etc., etc., etc…. and John responded patiently to my frequent questions about procedures, personalities, historical background, and so on, never offering advice unless I asked for it, but always willing to act as a sounding board. My thanks to both.
Sandy was replaced by our new administrative assistant, Nancy Underlin (left). Nancy has a BS from the College of Business Administration at MSU and most recently she worked as the administrative Assistant at MSU’s Missouri Virtual School before it was shut down. Nancy seems to have settled in nicely, rapidly growing accustomed to the quirkiness that characterizes so many academics and figuring out a fundamental tenet of economics—incentives matter (she uses dark chocolates as bribes!)
A brief run-down on some other items of note follows.
- The number of majors has increased from 55 in Fall 2008 to 77 at present, and last year 22 students graduated from the program.
- In each of the last two years the Economics Club has arranged for several of our students to attend the conferences held by the Missouri Valley Economics Association and/or the Midwest Economics Association.
- In 2009, because of the economic downturn, we were able to award only three of the scholarships designated for our majors—the Alumni, the Wasson and the Carnahan scholarships. However, in 2010 this number was increased to seven, and (in addition to those already mentioned) we were also able to award the Hardie, Lages, Cox and Moore scholarships. A complete list of scholarships awarded and the scholarship winners may be found at http://www.missouristate.edu/econ/88470.htm .
- At a reception honoring the scholarship winners, 16 majors and 4 minors were inducted into Omicron Delta Epsilon (ΟΔΕ), the National Honor Society in Economics.
- With the help of funding from the College Dean, the Department equipped a computer classroom with multiple copies of Eviews, an econometric software package widely used by students and faculty in the Department. This will aid in the teaching of the econometrics courses and will also be very useful for students working on the original research projects that are required of every graduating senior.
2010 Scholarship Winners
L to R: Brett Foster (Moore Scholarship), Melissa Hill (Hardie Memorial), Albert Roberts (Cox Scholarship), Taylor Hennessy (Alumni Scholarship), Thomas Hotard (Lages Memorial), Anna Harrington (Wasson Award). Jade Chrisman (Carnahan Scholarship) was in France on a Study Away trip at the time this photograph was taken.
Here’s a partial (and very incomplete) list of the post graduation activities being pursued by some of our recent graduates:
- Anne Carpenter (2009)—employed at Great Southern Bank, seeking admission to a PhD program in Economics
- Adlai Groves (2009)—completing a master’s program in Economics at the University of Maine (awarded an assistantship); now headed to Law School
- Alex Davis (2009)—Law School at University of Missouri (with a scholarship!)
- Orlando Hodges (2009)—accepted in the “Teach for America” program
- Timothy Kinmartin (2009)—commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and will be attending an Officer Leader course
- Daniel Walker (2009)—working at the Kansas City Fed
- Bobby Cavender (2010)—awarded a fellowship by George Mason University to pursue a PhD in economics
- Anna Harrington (2010)—pursuing an MBA at MSU
- Taylor Hennessy (2010)—has a scholarship to attend Law School at the University of Missouri, Kansas City
- Jason Buchek (2010)—has a job as an underwriting associate at American National Insurance
- Joseph Troutt (2010)—MBA at Drury University
- Nick Maddux (2010)—Campaign Manager, Bill Stouffer for Congress; Political Director, Billy Long for Congress; also working on an MBA at MSU
You will notice that the plans for a majority of people on this list include going to Graduate School or Law School. That is because students selecting one of these options typically have firm plans before they graduate and can pass this information on to us. However, most graduating seniors are still searching for jobs, or will be starting their job search after they graduate and we do not know what career paths they eventually choose. However, this is information we would very much like to have.
So, if you’re a recent graduate—say within the last 5 years—PLEASE SEND ME AN EMAIL (email@example.com) WITH INFORMATION ON YOUR CURRENT POSITION/ACTIVITIES.
- In 2010, the Department completed its Program Review, an exhaustive study of the Department’s performance, conducted once every five years. The results of the review were generally favorable, and we have received some useful suggestions from the External Reviewer, which we expect to implement over the next couple of years.
- From 2009 to the present, the faculty published 18 articles in refereed journals, 6 book chapters or encyclopedia entries, and presented 27 papers at professional conferences. Some highlights include
- Seminal work by Terrel Gallaway, Reed Olsen and David Mitchell on the economic impact of light pollution—the first of its kind in the profession
- Sharmistha Self’s sustained prolificacy (yes, that is a word!)—averaging more than 3 published articles a year for the last 5 years
- A special issue of the Annals of Operations Research on “The Theory and Applications of Uncertainty,” co-edited and with an introduction (co-authored) by Ardeshir Dalal
- Mahua Barari Mitra, was appointed Provost Fellow for Public Affairs for 2009-2010 and had the primary responsibility for organizing the Public Affairs Conference for 2009-10. She was also instrumental in arranging for Dr. Mohammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, to present the 2010 Provost Convocation Lecture. Dr. Yunus spoke on "Social Business—Business to Make a Difference," and before his talk, several faculty members from the Economics Department had an opportunity to get together with him.
Economics Faculty Members with Dr. Yunus
L to R: Mahua Mitra, Ardeshir Dalal, Mohammad Yunus, Julie Gallaway, Reed Olsen, Terrel Gallaway.
- In 2010 Julie Gallaway was promoted to the position of Senior Instructor. Congratulations, Julie!
- Terrel Gallaway is going to be busier than usual for this year and the next. He is the Chair-Elect for the Faculty Senate this year and will be Chair next year. This is an extremely important position, but it is also very demanding, not least because of the number of meetings he will be constrained to sit through! Our congratulations and best wishes to Terrel.
- Tom Wyrick, David Mitchell and Reed Olsen provided numerous—so many that we’ve lost track of the exact number—interviews to the media encompassing radio, print and TV!
- In 2009, in cooperation with the Missouri Council on Economic Education, the Department set up a Center for Economic Education. For the time being David Mitchell, Director of the Bureau will also be Director of the Center. The primary object is to hold workshops relevant for K-12 teachers, but it may eventually branch out into workshops available to the general public.
- In February, 2011, the Center organized a workshop on the prospects for the Missouri economy. It was held at the University Plaza Hotel and was extremely well attended. David was the keynote speaker, presenting his 2011 forecast for the Missouri economy and the “reaction panel” included local businessmen and dignitaries. See the flyer below. The KOLR 10 report on the forum may be viewed at http://ozarksfirst.com/search-fulltext?nxd_id=400696
Finally, A VERY BIG THANK YOU to all of our loyal supporters who have made donations over the years to the Economics Department. We are deeply grateful for each and every one of these. It is these donations which make it possible for us to continue to award our scholarships or to meet expenses not covered by our regular budget. We are now in the process of trying to increase the average amount of our scholarship awards. Only two of our scholarships have award amounts as high as $1000. The others are in the $500-$600 range, barely enough to cover the tuition for a 3 credit hour undergraduate course (currently $186/hr for in-state tuition). We’d like to be able to increase the award amount to at least $1000 for every scholarship awarded to an economics major. So, if you have a favorite scholarship, please continue to make donations to it. If you don’t have a favorite, you could donate to the Economics Department Scholarship. Funds from the latter account can be used to augment the award amounts for other scholarships, and this year we have done precisely that for the Alumni, Hardie and Lages scholarships. We also welcome donations to the department’s General Fund, which provides us with a reserve to meet unexpected expenses, or to cover large equipment purchases which might not otherwise be funded.
Keep in touch. We’d love to hear from you.
Professor and Head
Department of Economics
Missouri State University