The campus is beautiful at this time of year, although the students can be excused for not noticing – final exams and course papers have most of them preoccupied. We in Economics can take the credit (or blame) for much of this preoccupation. Of the undergraduates on campus, nearly one of every two will have taken Economics 101 (Economics 10 in earlier days) during their time on campus. Of all the undergraduates graduating last year, nearly one in every ten was an Economics major. We are doing our part to create the Carolina experience.
Student demand for our courses has climbed rapidly in recent years: for example, the number of students graduating with an undergraduate major in Economics has risen by 44 percent since 2012. The number of applicants for our graduate program annually outstrips available spots: last year, we had 417 applications for 18 new students.
It’s good to be popular, but we’re pleased with other metrics as well •Our innovative Minor in Entrepreneurship continues to grow, bringing the concepts of entrepreneurship to public health, journalism and the arts as well as commercial ventures. •Our undergraduate Federal Reserve Challenge team breezed through sectional and regional rounds and competed in the Finals in Washington DC with students from Princeton University, University of Chicago, and other top-ranked private universities. •Andrew Powell, an Economics graduate last year and a former Student Body President at UNC, was named the Head of Learning Innovation for African Leadership University in Mauritius; there he’ll be using the pedagogical skills he learned while helping us transform our Economics 101 into a flipped classroom experience.
In short, the students are not just coming to our classes – they’re learning life lessons that will prepare them well for whatever comes next. Whether it is Mauritius, Washington, or a start-up in Shanghai, our students carry their Carolina Economics experience with them.
Carolina is a premier research university, and our faculty members take seriously both our teaching and research. Scaling up instruction to meet this new demand for classes has been a challenge, but we’ve been successful this year in adding five professors who excel in both instruction and research. You’ll read about each of these later in this newsletter, but let me highlight an anticipated addition: Professor Peter Hansen, recently named on Thomson Reuters’ (short) list of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds, will take up the Henry Latané Distinguished Professorship in Economics next July. I’m sorry to report a retirement as well; Professor Richard Froyen retired this year after 44 years on our faculty. We will miss his intellect and humor around Gardner Hall.
The heavy demand for our courses, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, is a strong affirmation of our value to our students. Rising enrollments could depersonalize the learning experience of students in our courses, and we – both faculty and staff – have worked hard to develop individualized learning opportunities. These are generally funded through private contributions to the Economics Department, and many of you have been our partners in this effort. We are able to provide summer research fellowships, travel and learning funds, job fairs and case competitions, and other innovations only with the financial support of our friends. Thank you for partnering with us in improving the learning opportunities for all our majors.
I hope that you’ll enjoy this newsletter. Should you wish further information about the Department or links to more recent awards and accomplishments, check our news site at economicsnews.web.unc.edu. Should you be in Chapel Hill, please stop by; I’d be pleased to meet you.
Professor and Department Chair