2023-24 Economics Newsletter

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In This Issue:

What's New with the BECON & Economics Majors?

Kerry Adzima

Kerry A. Adzima, Ph.D.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

The Economics program offered a new special topics course this fall led by Professor Dave Dieteman, associate teaching professor of management. Law and Economics investigates how the economic understanding of individual human behavior relates to many areas of social rules. The class investigates the U.S. Constitution in relation to economic liberties, as well as property rights, environmental issues, regulation, entrepreneurship, public goods, monopolies, and criminal law. Students also investigate questions about the nature and purpose of the prohibition of narcotics and alcohol, as well as firearms regulation.

What can an understanding of economics tell us about the law? Are there relationships between legal rules and institutions and economic growth? How might economics give us a perspective from which we can critique the law? These are some of the questions posed in the field of Law and Economics. This course will be offered again in Fall 2024.

In other news, the Economics department hosted BECON Day on October 24, featuring panelists working in a variety of fields. The panelists shared how an understanding of economics plays a significant role in career success. More than 100 students attended the event, held once every academic year. Alumni presenters included Matt Warnaka from Regions Bank, Adam Welch from Legends Hospitality, and Scott Jeska from House Buyers of Erie.

Dr. Kerry Adzima, Discipline Lead, Business Economics and Economics Majors

Faculty Spotlight

Val Vlad

Val Vlad

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Dr. Valerica Vlad teaches economics at Penn State Behrend, with courses including Money and Banking, Business Forecasting Techniques, and Intermediate Macroeconomics.

What inspired you to pursue a career in your field of expertise?

During the 1990s, I realized that Romania’s transition—from a command economy to a market system—needed an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the free-market economic system. I started searching for the best and fastest way to improve my own understanding, which led me to pursue an economics degree from a U.S. university.

How do you stay updated and incorporate new developments or trends in your field into your teaching methods?

I read books and watch documentaries. To understand the profound transformations that took place during the 1980s and 1990s, I recommend reading The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy by Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw, which focuses on the evolution of economics linked to the great events from the Great Depression to the financial contagion of the late 1990s.

What are some skills or competencies that you hope your students will develop or improve in your courses?

Thinking logically and relating economic knowledge to reality. I think macroeconomics as a science has to follow three major directions: First, to analyze—in more depth—the role of human behavior in explaining financial and economic fluctuations. Second, to generate solutions on how to harmonize economic growth and the protection of the environment. And third, to provide ideas to prevent the world getting into a new Cold War situation.

Alumni Spotlight

John Siarkowski ’23

Photo of John Siarkowski

John Siarkowski, who graduated in May 2023 with dual degrees in Business Economics and Finance, credits his comprehensive education at Penn State Behrend for his adeptness as Wabtec’s LEAD Finance Program internal auditor.

How did your time at Penn State Behrend prepare you for your career path?

Behrend's comprehensive Business Economics and Finance programs equipped me with a thorough understanding of financial documents, from balance sheets to 10-Ks, which proves invaluable in my role at Wabtec. I am deeply grateful for the education that has prepared me so well for my career.

What were some of your most memorable experiences or activities during your time at Behrend?

Participating in the CFA research challenge, mentored by Dr. Greg Filbeck, was pivotal; it deepened my understanding of business analysis through hands-on evaluation of Erie Insurance's financial reports and market data, highlighting the profound influence of global and local events on business performance.

Have there been any specific skills or knowledge you gained during your time at Penn State Behrend that have been particularly useful in your job?

At Behrend, I honed my communication skills, which are crucial in my audit role where many issues stem from miscommunication. Effective dialogue can prevent errors in inventory and data management, and my experiences at Behrend, from leading group projects to everyday interactions, were key to developing this vital competency.

Student Spotlight

Photo of Michaela Florence

Michaela Florence '25

Michaela Florence, a junior at Behrend, is dual majoring in Marketing and Business Economics. She also interns at the Black School of Business.

Can you tell us about one of your favorite classes you've taken at Behrend and why you enjoyed it?

My favorite class, Marketing Research, confirmed my aspiration to specialize in market research, due to its focus on data analysis techniques vital for marketing strategies. I eagerly anticipate studying econometrics, further aligning with my analytical nature and interest in applying statistics in business.

Are you involved in any clubs or extracurricular activities on campus, and why did you choose to participate in these activities?

I am very involved on campus, and my favorite club is Delta Sigma Pi, the professional fraternity for business majors. I’ve gotten a lot of professional development and transferable skills from it and made tons of lifelong friends, both at Behrend and from other chapters. DSP is one of the few organizations on campus that provides a deep sense of community beyond college while also helping the members grow into top-tier professionals.

Are there any specific professors or staff members at Penn State Behrend who have had a significant impact on your journey so far?

Dr. Mark Owens was instrumental in my decision to major in Business Economics. His encouragement and his recognition of my aptitude in economics was a pivotal influence, steering my academic path and bolstering my confidence in my potential.

The Society for Undergraduate Economists (SUE) Club Update

The Society for Undergraduate Economists (SUE) has undergone a series of changes, making club meetings and activities more common, accessible, and interesting. Twice-a-month club meetings involve and educate members. The first meeting of the month focuses on discussing recent economic trends in the country and the fundamentals of economics, while the second meeting either hosts guest speakers or reviews previous forecasts. Whether you know a lot or a little about economics, all are welcome to attend SUE meetings! This semester, SUE is also holding a Real Estate Seminar Series, which gives students the opportunity to learn about the various factors of the real estate industry and network with industry professionals.

SUE is also assisting with the planning of the 2024 Spring Business Trip to Chicago, to be held March 20–23.

Are you interested in joining SUE?

Reach out to SUE club president Jonas Bruno, SUE secretary, or join on BehrendSync.

Celebrating Behrend's 75th Anniversary

Photo of girl with boombox and text

We are busy celebrating Penn State Behrend's 75th anniversary! A fun fact: Behrend's B.S. in Business Economics became the second four-year business degree offered at the college! The year was 1981. The top-grossing movie was Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the top hit was “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes. Bell-bottoms gave way to leg warmers, neon colors, and giant boom boxes, which were “totally tubular.”

Find out more gnarly facts about Behrend's history.