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2014 Fall Linfield Magazine

“There are more questions without good answers than there are questions with good answers. My job is to help students understand what the questions are and how they need to think through the associated issues.” – Jeff Summers, Dave Hansen Endowed Chair in Economics Summers said the opportunities the endowment offers for collaborative research with students represent the best of Dave Hansen, dean of students and professor emeritus who retired from Linfield in 2012, because “when you think of him, you think of his interactions with students both as a professor and as an administrator.” –Mardi Mileham Fall 2014 l i n f i e l d m a g a z i n e - 1 5 professional respect, while teaching me along the way.” Vance compared Summers’ teaching style to that of Professor Emeritus Dave Hansen. “Both walked in the door to class and were there to make learning happen,” Vance said. “Jeff is very smart and very focused and he delivered a high level of education within the four walls of a classroom, yet he was always easy to connect with outside of class.” In addition to Vance, Summers has teamed up with a number of students on research projects and papers. (See sidebar) This past summer, thanks to funding provided by Peter Fisher ’96, managing partner of Human Investing, Summers and Altringer collaborated on two projects. The first, “Is College Pricing Power Pro-Cyclical?” looked at whether a college’s ability to raise net tuition revenue through raising list price is dependent on the business cycle. During a recession, can colleges increase revenue when they raise prices? And, during economic expansions, is it easier to raise the price and increase net tuition revenue? The second project was a benchmarking analysis comparing Linfield’s financial performance from 2005 to 2012 (including the Great Recession of 2007- 09) with 120 other baccalaureate arts and sciences colleges to get a sense of how Linfield fared. The challenge of research, according to Altringer, a math and economics double major, is that you have to be self-motivated, persistent and prepared for the fact that you don’t always succeed and sometimes need to start over. Not only did he have the opportunity to polish his writing skills this summer, he also was able to explore economic theory that he had not yet studied in class. “Dr. Summers was incredible to work with,” Altringer added. “He taught me some of the heavier economic concepts within a short amount of time. Being able to use and understand those was really rewarding.” Hansen Endowment The Dave Hansen Endowed Chair in Economics has allowed the department to add a full-time faculty member and hire Brittany Teahan, who recently received her Ph.D. in economics from Purdue University. Among other courses, she will teach experimental economics, which has not been offered before. In addition, the endowment provides support for research and travel, making funds available for student-faculty collaborative research. Sample of collaborative projects with students “Does Administration Crowd Out Instruction at Private, Four-Year Colleges and Universities?” with Ben Pappas ’04 “Factors Affecting First-Year Retention at Linfield College” with Allen Tyler ’11 “Factors Affecting Retention at Private Baccalaureate Arts and Sciences Colleges” with Tarun Fernandez ’12 “Baumol and Bowen Effects at Private Liberal Arts Colleges” with Geoff Hamilton ’12 “Is College Pricing Power Pro-Cyclical?” with Levi Altringer ’15


2014 Fall Linfield Magazine
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