2022-23 Economics Newsletter

In This Issue

New Things Going on in the Major

Kerry Adzima

Kerry A. Adzima, Ph.D.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

In October, the Economics department held a very successful BECON day featuring seven speakers on topics including real estate, banking fraud, data and actuarial analytics, and academia. A big thank-you goes out to faculty member Travis Yates for organizing this event.

In addition, the Economic Research Institute of Erie (ERIE) held its economic conference on December 2. The conference focused on the theme of Cybersecurity Threats to Small Business: Economic Impact and A Roadmap to Address Business Risks. Due to pandemic-related restrictions on in-person events, ERIE conferences were put on hold for two years. ERIE was especially pleased to resume this annual event in 2022, which marked the 40th anniversary of the Institute as a research and outreach center of the Black School of Business.

Faculty Spotlight

Travis Yates, Lecturer in Economics

Photo of Travis Yates

Travis Yates, M.B.A.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Travis Yates teaches introductory economics classes ECON 102 and ECON 104 and researches local imports and exports.

What do you most want economics students to know and do?
I want them to become exceptional at marginal analysis. With mastery of marginal analysis, students will be able to make the best decisions with whatever they face in their lives.

What book should every economist read? Why?
Every economist should read Basic Economics: A Commonsense Guide to the Economy by Thomas Sowell. This book breaks everything down to a very basic level allowing for an easy understanding of how the economy works without complicated jargon or equations. I suggest reading anything and everything by Thomas Sowell, Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and John Locke.

What's the biggest misconception about economics professors?
The biggest misconception about economics professors is that we are dull and boring. It couldn't be farther from the truth!

Alumni Spotlight

Chris Butler '21

Chris Butler

Chris Butler '21

Credit: Contributed Photo

Chris is a project finance analyst for Qcells North America, a major global manufacturer of solar modules and battery storage.

Which Behrend course has helped you the most in your career?
The most foundational courses at Behrend were ECON 102 and 104. Understanding the relationships between various factors of the economy is vital to determining discount rates for project finance and identifying opportunities for investment. These skills opened the door to a fast-paced career in energy finance.

What do you miss most about being a Behrend student?
I work remotely from my home office, so I miss the daily interaction with professors and fellow students (and I lived off the sandwiches in Clark Café). I also miss definitive answers to questions. As a consultant and analyst, definitive answers are the exception, not the rule.

Student Spotlight

Owen Valasek

Owen Valasek

Owen Valasek

Credit: Contributed Photo

Owen is the treasurer of the Society of Undergraduate Economists (SUE) and plans to graduate in 2024. He is working to attain the CFA designation as well as graduate with dual majors.

What has most surprised you about the study of economics?
Economics is such a broad field, which surprised me while studying it. I feel that most people have a preconceived notion that it focuses on finance, but there is so much more to learn when studying further.

What attracted you to Penn State Behrend?
Penn State Behrend attracted me immediately because of the beautiful campus and the diverse enrollment. A close-knit community is important to me, so I was interested in attending a smaller school. The decision to pursue a degree at Penn State Behrend was one of my best. The opportunities provided by Penn State have developed my skills and knowledge as a student in the fields of finance, accounting, and economics. The faculty have guided my future endeavors and supported me in making the most beneficial decisions for what I hope to achieve. I would recommend Penn State Behrend, and the Black School of Business, to each person with an interest in business.

Club Updates

As mentioned above, SUE held our first BECON day in the Fall 2022 semester. The event featured a wide variety of professionals and topics for Business Economics and Economics majors to learn from, including information about how an economics degree can be used after graduation.

In the Spring 2023 semester, SUE will be hosting our real estate series, which was a major success in Spring 2022. Attendees of the series can learn about the home-buying process, leasing and renting, mortgage rates, and how to manage properties.

SUE has a page on BehrendSync and a Slack channel for students to join. Send questions to John Siarkowski, SUE President, at [email protected].