As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus is credited for saying, “Change is the only constant in life.” Continuing the theme of changes in AEDE from our past newsletters, I am excited that this month we are focusing our newsletter on the introduction of our new faculty and staff in AEDE.
For those who haven’t been around the department in some time, I think you would be surprised at the number of new faces in the hallways. This month we brought on board four new tenure-track faculty members and a new instructional faculty member — a position that is new for us here at AEDE. Through success in the University’s Discovery Themes initiative, we are now able to say that we are a faculty of 21 outstanding applied economists. The influx of new talent will further solidify our reputation as one of the top departments of applied economics in the world.
In addition, over the past six months we have brought on board five new staff members, and I am now confident in saying that we have the best staff support of any department at the University.
I hope you will take the time to read through the brief biographies of our new faculty and staff in this newsletter, and whenever you are in the building, take a minute to introduce yourself.
Finally, on a more personal note, the start of a new school year has given me added perspective on the challenges that students and parents go through as they adjust to life in college. Over the past few weeks, I moved two of my own kids in to college and I see the excitement, nerves and challenges that the transition from high school to college presents. To help ease my own kids' nerves, I wrote a letter to each of them giving them one last "Dad lecture" before they start the academic year. But this lecture was a little different, it comes from twenty years’ of experience as a college professor. In the letter, I shared three things that I’ve seen lead to student success, and I thought I would share them with you as well.
Here are three things I've seen lead to success for students:
1) Go to class: This might seem obvious, but for some reason students forget. Even if your professors don't take attendance, there is a direct correlation between the number of times you go to class and how well you do in class. Why? Because it is in class where you figure out what the professor wants, how they think and what is needed. I don't play favorites in the classroom, but those who come to class do better (even if they fall asleep). It's that simple. Get your butt out of bed and go to class.
2) I have no idea what you will use any of this for... and neither do you. Just yesterday I was sitting in my office trying to remember how to work with natural logarithms. If you would've asked me my freshman year what I would ever use a natural logarithm for, I would have told you I have no clue. And that's the point. There's not a single professor who can predict what you will be or how you will use anything you learn. And neither can you. Don't dismiss learning just because you don't know what you are going to do with it. Learn a lot. You just might use it someday. And even if you don't use it yourself, you might have to help your kids with their homework someday.
3) Think big: A lot of students show up at college thinking they either already know or need to quickly figure out who they are going to be for the rest of their life. They think they need to narrow themselves down to fit in a little box of a major. Don't think that way. You have the rest of your life to limit yourself. Now is the time to explore, to think different, to express ideas and be proven wrong, to express ideas and prove your professors wrong, to meet new people, to find out who they are, and then to find out who you are. In short, now is a time to learn. So don't limit yourself by what you think others want you to be. Be yourself, once you figure out who that is.
Now, for all you students out there, get your butt out of bed and go to class.