The Never-Ending Quest: Education

Monday, September 26, 2005
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Finally, I am two classes away from wrapping up my Master of Arts in Economics (early spring) at Walsh College, and shortly thereafter, I complete my Master of Science in (Corporate) Finance. So late summer finds me done with it all. Oops — almost.

In the fall, I’ll brush up on my advanced math – trig, calc, econometrics – and then ’07 sould find me in the new Doctor of Arts program in Austrian Economics at Walsh College, that is, should that program find its way to a rubber-stamped “a-ok” from college President Keith Pretty.

This program will be the first of its kind in the country: Austrian-focused, light on math, heavy on all else. I questioned President and CEO Pretty last week about the viability of the Austrian (ok, “free market econ”) program, and he assured me that as long as the economics of such an economics program proves viable, no inside “politics” will keep this program from happening. I am very confident that the ostensible visibility and status that will be provided to the college, via such an elite program, will make it a go. Already, Misesian Austrians are being scouted to teach in the program. I can’t reveal more than that.

I’ve got a glimpse of the likely coursework, and indeed, it is exciting. The new Executive VP of the college is an Austrian, and I have faith that he will plant this glorious new seedling. Traditionally, the school has been a top-notch CPA mill (such is where I come from), however, the finance & economics department has become a powerhouse in its own right. I have confidence that Walsh will soon become a distinguished place of learning for all libertarians, free-marketeers, and out-of-the-mainstream economists.

Walsh College offers up a different kind of student than the norm: first of all, most of us work very full-time, and then some. Most are white-collar professionals, many working in the auto industry, and of course, a throng of students come from places like DaimlerChrysler, Ford, GM, Lear, SPX, JD Powers, Delphi, Visteon, EDS, and the like. We are far different than the usual, twenty-something in that we are older; more experienced in life; have held our noses to the grindstone in the workaholic Midwest; and have had a seat at the table, business-wise. The typical Walsh student has worked side-by-side with Fortune 300 CFOs, and has been beaten up by company presidents for not making quarterly numbers. The intellect is typically (but not always) built from street smarts and business acumen, and not necessarily book smarts. Mega-stress and brain-beatings from the insanely-paced, local business environment is a part of our daily ritual. I’m not saying this is ncessarily a good thing, but this is what it’s like here.

That said, teaching in this program is going to be far different than teaching, high-IQ, bright-eyed, young intellectual types that have no pressure of job, and no daily stress test of the sort that Walsh professionals/students have. Thus, the green youngsters are blessed with the time to be immersed, daily, in this methodology or that, this reading or that, with little else to live up to but their immediate studies. The Walsh student won’t be as well-read nor as relaxed. Nor will they be as polished when it comes to abstract theory. Rather, the typical Doctorate student at Walsh will bring a wealth of hard knowledge and working genius to the classroom, impressing upon the Professors a different kind of knowledge and intellect. Some of my classmates have wow’d me with their wonderful sense of acuity as they overlap profound wisdom with academic profundity.

Best of all, I think Walsh has all the right people in the right place to make this happen. A very impressive bunch. If/when this program “happens,” it will be a blessed thing.

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