Where to go with an Economics degree?

Chris Knittel (class of 1994) went on to a doctoral program at U.C. Berkeley and then accepted a teaching position at Boston University. Chris is now an Associate Professor at U.C. Davis. Amy Trailer (class of 1997) serves as a coordinator for an economic development company in Tuolumne County, working with the city, county, and private business to relocate, retain and expand businesses. Bev Finley (class of 1973, MPA 1982) has twenty-seven years of experience in health care industries. She served as CEO of the Stanislaus Medical Center before assuming her position as Director of the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency.

Other graduates work as insurance adjusters, or they work in real estate, retail, and local government agencies. David Yonan (class of 1983) is Senior Vice President with Bank of America’s Central Valley Regional Office in Modesto, where he manages a team that delivers financial products to middle market companies. “My degree major in economics was invaluable in providing me with the foundation to deal with a diverse client base,” states Yonan. “Economics provides the basic background to understand how the business engine runs and the common sense to drive it in the right direction.”

Many Economics majors found their career paths through internships. Students have taken intern positions, for example, in the City of Newman finance department. Some lucky students visited the sites of Dan MacKenzie's (class of 1984) entertainment distribution company. During Winter term 2001, Senior Becky Stockwell traveled to Amsterdam to meet with Mr. MacKenzie’s European associates. She summarized her experience as follows:

"I got a taste of many aspects of life in Amsterdam from the culture and economics of a foreign city to the structure of an international company. In the time I spent in Amsterdam, there were few things similar to the culture and organization of the United States. I had the opportunity to stay with a local resident of Amsterdam which allowed me an inside vantage point to how the people of Amsterdam live. I went to work each morning with my host and learned about the TBWA\ Entertainment Company and spent the afternoon learning about my host country. The language, society, economic conditions, history, and laws were all different from anything I had ever experienced. Through my experience I gained a new appreciation for my own culture as well as another. This was an experience that I will never forget and an experience that has changed me forever."

Commitment to Students

All the ECON faculty are passionately convinced of one thing: understanding economics is vital to a person’s education. Student learning is the central goal of the department, and good teaching is essential. As evidence of this enthusiastic commitment to teaching and learning, two of the department’s founding members, Drs. Kottke and Lee received university recognition as Outstanding Professor of the Year.

Because of their dedication to students and to the importance of economic education, ECON Department members are constantly working on ways to further economic understanding and education in all their classes. All department members teach sections of the introductory principles courses. Upper-division Economics classes average 20 students, which means students get a great deal of individual attention.

The rest of the state of California seems to agree with our Economics faculty on the importance of Economic education: in 1998 Economic education became part of the whole K-12 curriculum. The department has developed a course focused on the contemporary economic issues for students in the Liberal Studies major. The department also houses the Center for Economic Education, which maintains videotape series, books, and other teaching aids for local teachers and works on ways to reach out to the region’s schools.

Remarkably, from 1970-1990 the Department of Economics faculty was composed of the same five full-time faculty. Dr. Fredrick E. Kottke, founder of the department, famous for his 8:00 a.m. Principles classes where you were not allowed to sleep, retired in 1991 and passed away in 1995. Dr. Dieter Renning retired in 1996. Dr. Albert Lee retired in Fall 1998. Dr. William Crist retired in 2003. He was at the forefront of PERS, the Public Employees Retirement System as Chairman of the Board. (PERS is the largest public employee pension system in the United States). Department chair Dr. Edward C. Erickson serves as the department’s link to the past. His primary teaching responsibilities include intermediate Macroeconomics, a course on investments, and a number of courses on the monetary sector and financial institutions. He celebrated his 40th year with CSU, Stanislaus in May 2010!

Dr. Kelvin Jasek-Rysdahl, who joined the department in 1996, focuses on courses such as Economic Thought, Political Economy, and The California Economy. His research interests focus on helping policy makers get a better understanding of the region’s economy. Through the Center for Public Policy Studies at CSU Stanislaus, he has participated in projects that are helping improve the region’s understanding of its own economy. In 2007 Dr. Jasek-Rysdahl was recognized as CSU, Stanislaus' Outstanding Professor of the Year.

Dr. Elaine J. Peterson, who also joined the department in 1996, teaches Economic History, Public Finance, Business Economics, Health Economics, Economics of Crime, and Public Finance. She is also researching alternative economic and sociological models of crime and business cycles. Other research includes a study of the local EMS System, study of the children of teen mothers, and study of neighborhood changes over time. She and Dr. Kim are co-advisors for the Economics club.

Dr. Eungsuk Kim joined the department in the fall 1999. His primary teaching interests are in International Trade, Quantitative Analysis, and Managerial Economics. He has been actively participating in research on foreign direct investment and multinational firms and in a study of the North Korean economy and its impact on the unification policy of South Korea. As a former international student himself, he is deeply concerned for international students at this campus.

Dr. Daniel B. Deisenroth joined the department in fall, 2011. He teaches Natural Resource and Environmental Economics, Economics and Agriculture, Intermediate Microeconomics, as well as Principles of Microeconomics and Principles of Macroeconomics. He is active on several research projects, most of which involve the economics of outdoor recreation and/or aquaculture. He is also an active member of the Agricultural Studies Faculty, as well as an adviser to the Economics Club. You can learn more about Daniel here.

Support for students

Over the years donations have been made to support Economics majors based on students’ need or on scholarship. The department greatly appreciates this generosity, which has helped a great number of students. Scholarship recipients are announced at the department’s spring picnic, one of the highlights of the year.

The Foster family and Foster Farms, strong supporters of the Economics Department, have set up two scholarship funds. The Max and Verda Foster Memorial Scholarship was set up to help students interested in pursuing a degree in economics with career aspirations in fields related to agriculture. The Tom Foster Memorial Scholarship has been set up to honor Tom Foster, who graduated from CSU Stanislaus with a degree in Economics.

The Daniel A. MacKenzie Scholarship is given annually to one Economics student with a strong academic record and potential. This scholarship is provided through the generous support of Dan MacKenzie as a way of giving something back to the department and honoring his mentor, Dr. Kottke. Other scholarships that are given annually include the James Brownlee Scholarship, the Eric Goshay Memorial Scholarship, the Renning Scholarship and the K.C. & Izzy Hoddle Scholarship which are used for special recognition of Economics students' accomplishments.