I am pleased to be able to write to you once again as Department Chair in Economics. If you close your eyes, I’m sure you can picture the Carolina campus. I find it just as beautiful as it was when I arrived 31 years ago. It is especially vivid in fall, with the varied hues of the changing leaves setting off the brick of the buildings and walks. The beauty of Carolina extends to the students as well. We in Economics are blessed to be teaching (and learning from) the finest young people our state and our nation have produced. This fall we’ve welcomed a tremendous cohort: I can tell from my vantage point as professor in Introductory Economics that these are youth who will make us all proud.
Our mission remains what it has always been: to provide a challenging and rewarding curriculum in economic analysis and application to all students here at Carolina. This year has been a sobering one for our university. The recent release of the Wainstein Report reminds us that we must be ever-vigilant and work diligently to ensure academic irregularities do not, and will not, happen again on our campus. Excellence and accountability are our top priority in academic instruction, and as the Department Chair I assure you that student learning comes first. If you have questions or concerns about the Wainstein Report or would like to learn more about the current reforms, please visit http://carolinacommitment.unc.edu or contact me.
You’ll be amazed and proud to see what our undergraduates have achieved this year. One Economics major this year is Student Body President in his spare time. Our Fed Challenge team (juniors and seniors with expertise in US monetary policy) once again went to the National finals in Washington DC, having triumphed in local and regional competitions. The Economics Club remains very active, with job-search workshops and case competitions in addition to the excellent speakers it brings to campus. The Entrepreneurship Minor, housed in the Department of Economics, has also been stellar: the six women from the Minor who landed jobs with Google last year are only a small example of the tremendous life- and business-skills preparation the Minor, and the Economics Department, provides.
Our graduate students have also been rocking the world; you’ll find their stories in this newsletter. Our faculty continues its path-breaking economic research, whether focused upon competition in the taxi market of New York City or the effectiveness of health care delivery in Africa. Our faculty members are also finalists for at least two university-wide teaching awards this year.
We were fortunate this year to hire four outstanding researchers and instructors. We welcome Simon Alder of University of Zurich, Ju Hyun Kim of Columbia University, Michelle Sheran-Andrews of University of Virginia and Valentin Verdier of Michigan State University, and provide introductions to them later in this mailing. We say good-bye to John Stewart as he enters retirement and to Saraswata Chaudhuri and Jeremy Petranka who resigned to accept positions at other universities. We greatly appreciate their service to the students of UNC, and wish them well in their post-Carolina plans.
Let me close with a thank-you to you. As the demand for Economics courses grows at Carolina, we are working overtime to provide the personalized education that every student deserves. Larger enrollments have become a reality in most Economics classes, but the private contributions of donors have allowed us to offer individualized summer research opportunities, intensive applications like the Fed Challenge, and individualized assistance to those struggling in their Economics classes. You are the “secret sauce” that lifts Economics education from good to great, and we greatly appreciate it. Should you be in Chapel Hill, please stop by.
Professor and Department Chair