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It’s that time of year when many of us commit to New Year’s resolutions. My personal endeavor is to “sow bountifully.” I have guidance on what this behavior looks like as an individual interacting with others, but how might the chairperson of a large academic department at a research university similarly resolve to “sow bountifully” or, in economic terms “invest wisely?” That is, what does it look like to make wise investments in the people, programs, and practice of the Economics Department? This newsletter highlights some of our past efforts and the resulting output. We hope you will consider partnering with us for the future.

 

People

Our people are the current students, faculty, and staff of the Economics Department, as well as the folks our work might impact. Investment in students means providing a supportive environment in which to learn and succeed. Similarly, investment in faculty means providing an environment that fosters collegiality, intellectual exploration, and productive output. Investment in staff might begin with acknowledgment of and expressed thanks for the (often veiled) support they provide each day. The investment inputs may take the form of time, money, or words. For example, we recently purchased benches for the hallways of Gardner to encourage casual conversation about, say, how imperfect information affects a consumer’s beliefs about the price and quality of a good. We also desire to equip our seminar room with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment and furniture to provide an efficient and comfortable transfer of knowledge from guest speakers to students and faculty.

  

Programs

Our programs include all the events and services that we offer. Alumni have come back to campus to interact with our majors via open office hours and resume workshops. Students report that the one-on-one time is invaluable. Stewarded gifts have funded faculty-guided summer research and student-designed economics adventures. Time and money provide support for our EconAid Center, Carolina Economics Club, Women in Economics Club, and the Fed Challenge Team. This semester we are piloting a career preparation course specifically targeted to economics majors and taught
by an alumnus with 28 years of business experience.

 

Practice

Our practice is what we engage in professionally—teaching and research. Support for faculty participation in teaching workshops and conferences exposes us to innovative active learning techniques and allows us to disseminate findings based
on quantitative evaluation of our own experimental teaching re-designs. Research funds support faculty presentations at conferences and purchases of data. Funding that supports a buyout of teaching time allows time for course development and focused research. Faculty often travel to catalyze innovative research and engage in scholarly activities with other professionals, yet the costs of these activities, including conference registrations, keep rising.

Perhaps you’d like to support the efforts of the Economics Department in this new year. The newsletter may spark your interest or give you ideas of how you might contribute. We welcome any involvement, whether it be via time, money, or simply your ideas. We want to invest wisely in 2020 and beyond.

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