Dr. Jianakoplos and Instructor Melanie Wentzel-Long

Professor Nancy Jianakoplos and Graduate Student Instructor Melanie Wentzel-Long receive 2019 CLA awards

At the 2019 CLA All-College Awards and Reception held Wednesday, March 24th, two Economics Department members were recognized for their achievements.

Professor Nancy Jianakoplos was awarded the John N. Stern Distinguished Professor Award. This award is presented to faculty who have demonstrated exemplary accomplishments in all aspects of their professional responsibilities over an extended period of time.

The following remarks were made by Dean Withers at the awards reception:

“Dr. Jianakoplos joined CSU’s Department of Economics in 1990. Over her career, she has distinguished herself as a vibrant, knowledgeable, and much honored teacher; a widely-cited, insightful scholar, and as an effective, accomplished citizen of the department, college, university and profession. Her research contributes to several remarkably diverse areas of economics: savings, wealth, financial risk-taking, gender, and sports. A hallmark of her research is a detailed, probing analysis of quantitative evidence. The New York Times featured on page 1 her early collaboration with Paul Menchik on wealth mobility. Later, she broke new ground by studying the differences in financial behavior between women and men; her article “Are Women More Risk Averse?,” co-authored with Alex Bernasek, has been cited more than 1,700 times according to Google Scholar. Most recently, her attention has turned to the economics of sports, focusing on collective bargaining between players and owners and the differences in men’s and women’s NCAA basketball competition.

During Dr. Jianakoplos’s 29 years at CSU she has taught 12 different courses ranging from large introductory classes with 180 students to smaller senior capstone and graduate classes. Known for “real world” active learning projects and personal connections with individual students, it is not unusual to find superlative comments such as “Great Professor!”, “Great course!” and “Awesome job!” as well as enthusiastic, personal notes of appreciation in her evaluations. “She really takes her time so students understand the material. I have taken this class before and had to drop it and I’m so glad I did because now I actually understand the economy!” Honors students named Prof. Jianakoplos “Honors Prof” and she has been voted “Best Professor” in the Collegian “Best of CSU” survey. Over her career, Dr. Jianakoplos has been selected favorite Economics professor over a half dozen times in Senior Surveys completed by graduating economics majors.”

Dr. Jianakoplos has also been awarded with the inaugural (1996) CSU Alumni Association “Best Teacher” award, the Jack Cermak Advising Award, the Eddy Teaching Award from the College of Liberal Arts, and the Keller Faculty Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Graduate Student Instructor Melanie Wentzel-Long was awarded the 2019 Graduate Student Excellence in Teaching Award.

The following remarks were made by Professor and Senior Associate Dean Alex Bernasek:

“Melanie has taught classes in Gender in the Economy, History of Economic Thought and Principles of Micro (180 students and 3 GTAs).  This year Melanie completed the TILT Graduate Teaching Certificate.

Her nomination reads:

‘Melanie is a caring, attentive teacher who seeks to create a classroom experience that demonstrates the value of diversity and is respectful and inclusive for all. She does that both through her choice of and presentation of course content and through the way she conducts her classes. Her efforts go beyond the classroom and she is recognized by students not only as an excellent teacher but also as a role model and mentor.’

Melanie writes in her teaching philosophy:

‘As an undergraduate at Westminster College, I vividly recall being introduced to Kenneth Burke’s metaphor of the “unending conversation.” Burke invites us into an imaginary parlor where a conversation is underway. It takes time to catch up with the discussion, much less dare to contribute. The metaphor impressed me then as a description of the academic life that I wanted to pursue, and now it inspires me as an economics educator. After all, economics is steeped in conversations over policy and theory. I prepare students to join these conversations as engaged learners and citizens in various ways. In these efforts to teach students how to converse, I pay careful attention to the who as well: Who is included in the conversation? I make class content and discussions reflections of my students’ diverse identities. Students who feel that their lived experience is represented in the material are more engaged learners and feel that they are part of the classroom community. With every class that I teach, I am inspired by the opportunities for learning that inclusive discussions provide, and I discover new ways to enable all students to join the conversations in economics.’

Finally, a comment from one of Melanie’s students:

‘This was simply the best class I have ever taken in my entire life. The instructor put so much effort into the notes and questions regarding the readings. I really enjoyed the way the discussion boards functioned.   ……. This really helped me understand the material, which was also much more difficult compared to my other classes. This class has reaffirmed my love for economics and everything that is possible with this degree. I really wish that every professor cared this much about every class. I put more effort into this class than I ever have in my life and I think that is because of the way this class was organized and facilitated.’”

Congratulations to professor Dr. Jianakoplos and instructor Melanie Wentzel-Long!