Graduate School Information Session

The Economics Department will sponsor a graduate school information session for all economics students on Thursday, December 3 from 4 – 5 pm in EconHouse room 104. Our special guest will be Stephanie Rzepka ’09, currently a first-year graduate student in economics at the University of Pittsburgh. Stephanie will answer all your questions about getting into graduate school and what to expect while you are there. Stephanie will be talking to you live from Pittsburgh using the teleconference capabilities of room 108. This session will be useful to any student of economics of any class thinking about graduate school in any discipline. Bring your questions and light refreshments will be served.

First Meeting of UMW Asset Management Club

UMW Asset Management Club will be holding its first open meeting Wednesday, November 4 at 4:30pm in Econ House (CLAV – 1004 College Ave.).

In 2016 Social Security will start paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes and will be depleted by 2037, according to government projections. In 28 years the prospect of retirement will hopefully be an obtainable goal. However, in the absence of a social security program, how will our generation be able to afford retirement? Join UMW Asset Management Club and learn how to make your savings grow and work for you.

Our club expands its members’ knowledge of portfolio management, by presenting analysis on individual investment vehicles, during weekly meetings. Learn how to use fundamental and technical analysis to evaluate the intrinsic price of stocks. Our club also tracks the accuracy of our decision making, by using a group-managed, market simulator.

Announcing a Minor in Economics

Pending Faculty Senate approval, the opportunity to minor in economics will be available to students starting in Fall 2010. The requirements for the minor will be 21 hours in economics, including 201 and 202, either 303 or 304, either 300 or 361, and 3 other courses. Students should consult closely with their advisor.

Independent Study Opportunity for Economics Majors

Econ 491 – Individual Study in Economics
Spring 2010

The Men’s tennis coach would like to have an analysis of the economic impact of several tennis events hosted by the University. This project is to conduct an economic impact analysis of a tennis event hosted at Mary Washington with information provided by Coach Helbling. Your independent research work will be supervised by Dr. Ray. For more information or if you are interested in this independent study opportunity, contact MRAY@UMW.edu.
Brief description of some of the events:
We host tournaments with over 250 players and coaches and another 250 spectators over a 3 day period (ITA Regional).
We host the NCAA National Championships with 150-200 participants and another 100 spectators here for a period of 7 days (NCAA National Championships).
We host numerous other tournaments with 60-150 people here for a weekend.

First Meeting of the Economics Club

The first meeting of the Economics Club for the 2009-2010 year will take place on Tuesday, September 29 at 7 PM in EconHouse.

Countries and Citizens: Linking International Macro and Micro Data

How to work with international macro and micro data:


Hat tip to Professor Greenlaw.

New Departmental Honors Procedure Approved

The Economics Department recently approved a new, revised procedure for receiving honors:

To receive departmental honors in economics a student must complete the major with a minimum 3.5 GPA in the major and successfully write an Honors Thesis.  A student is considered to have a 3.5 GPA if their GPA is that high when the proposal is accepted or at the end of the semester when the thesis is completed.

Honors Thesis Procedure:

1. Students who are interested in writing an Honors Thesis should first enlist a member of the Department to act as the Chair of their Honors Thesis Committee.  In consultation with the student, the Chair will solicit two other members of the Department to act as committee members.   (Only under exceptional circumstances will a faculty member chair more than two Honors Thesis Committees during a semester.  If a faculty member receives more than two requests to chair, the Department Chair can be brought in to help find another Thesis Committee Chair.  There is no limit on the number of Honors Thesis committees a faculty member can serve on as a committee member (but not chair) each semester.)

2. The student will submit a written proposal of no more than five pages to the committee.   The proposal should provide a clear and succinct description of the thesis project; it should state the question that the student is attempting to answer, and the procedures and sources that she or he plans to use to answer this question.  The proposal should also prove the student has already obtained access to relevant data.  The submission date for a December graduate is the previous August 1.  The submission date for a May graduate is the previous November 15.

3. The thesis committee will read and consult on the proposal.  The proposal must be approved unanimously.  If a proposal is not approved, the student will be given two weeks to revise and resubmit.  If the revised proposal is not approved, then the student will not be allowed to write an honors thesis.  The objective of the proposal process is to ensure that the members of the Committee have a clear understanding of what the student intends to do, and the student has a clear understanding of the Committee’s expectations.  Upon approval of the thesis proposal, the student must sign an Honors Thesis Contract.  The contract is shown at the end of this section.   The student should consult with the chair on his or her committee to arrange a regular schedule of meetings about the project during the writing process.

4. An oral thesis defense will be held by November 15 in the case of December graduates and April 15 in the case of May graduates.  One week prior to the defense, the student will submit a copy of the thesis to each committee member.  The oral defense will be open to all faculty and students in the Department.

5. After the oral defense, the thesis committee will consult.  The committee can vote to approve the thesis “as is,” to approve the thesis conditionally, or to reject the thesis.  If the thesis is approved “as is,” the process is over and the student will graduate with honors if the GPA requirement is met.  If the thesis is approved conditionally, the committee will explain to the student what must be done in order for the proposal to be approved.  The student has until the last day of the semester in which they plan to graduate to make all necessary changes.  The committee chair is responsible for determining whether the required changes have been made.  If the thesis now meets committee expectations, the process is over and the student will graduate with honors if the GPA requirement is met.   If the thesis is rejected, the student will not be able to graduate with honors.  Students should not lose sight of the fact that the thesis committee is not obligated to approve their project.

Other requirements:

The thesis will conform to the Chicago style guidelines.

According to University policy the student must deposit a copy of the thesis in the library by the last day of exams, and the chair of the department must notify the Office of the Registrar that the student is to receive departmental honors by the date upon which Senior grades are due.

The thesis must have a department-approved cover sheet. Click on the links to download coversheets in Word or PDF format.

The final copy of the thesis must be deposited in Simpson Library by the Monday before the May graduation date.

Honors Thesis Contract

            To maximize the value of the thesis to the student, the student agrees to conform to the following guidelines:

  • The student will meet with his or her faculty advisor on a regular basis during the writing process.
  • A final draft of the thesis will be submitted to the thesis committee no later than one week prior to the scheduled public oral defense.
  • A public oral defense must be held by November 15 in the case of December graduates and April 15 in the case of May graduates.
  • If the committee approves the thesis conditionally, the student has until the last day of classes for the semester in which they plan to graduate to submit an acceptable final version.
  • The thesis must have a department-approved cover sheet signed by all committee members.   It is the student’s responsibility to obtain all of the signatures.
  • The final copy of the thesis must be deposited in Simpson Library by the Monday before the May graduation date.
  • The student may be expected to present the thesis in an open public forum like Undergraduate Research Day or a similar Department symposium.

I understand if I do not conform to these guidelines, I will not receive Honors.

(signed by the student)

A Lifeline for Economics Students

Advice about how to study economics from the United Kingdom.  Hat tip to Professor Greenlaw.


UMW Fed Challenge Team Sets Up Blog

The UMW Fed Challenge team has established a blog. You can follow their progress at http://fedchallenge09.umwblogs.org

New Book by Department Faculty Member

Professor Robert S Rycroft’s new book, The Economics of Inequality, Discrimination, Poverty, and Mobility, has just been published by M.E. Sharpe Inc..







Exley Wins Darden Award! Humphrey Wins Outstanding Young Faculty Award! Departmental Honors! Scholarships! Other Awards!

At the 2009 Commencement ceremony, one graduating economics major and one faculty member received especially meritorious awards.

Christine Linman Exley of Norfolk, Va., received the Colgate W. Darden Jr. Award, which is presented annually to the student with the highest grade-point average (GPA) in the four-year undergraduate program. She finished with a 3.99 GPA.  Christine was the first economics major to win this award in forever.

Shawn Humphrey, assistant professor of economics, received the UMW Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award, which is presented annually to an exceptional member of the faculty who has served the institution for at least two years, but no more than five years.

See UMW News.

Other awards presented graduation weekend include:

Christine Linman Exley of Norfolk, Adam Smith Award for Graduate Study in Economics, Departmental Honors in Economics and Departmental Honors in Mathematics;

Stephanie Ann Rzepka of Erie, Pa., Adam Smith Award for Graduate Study in Economics, Henry W. Hewetton Economics Award and Departmental Honors in Economics;

Erin Nicole Beddingfield of Roanoke, Margaret Elizabeth Graybeal of Oakton, Katherine A. MacEwen of Heidelberg, Germany, Sierra Stoney of Clifton and Melanie Rose Walter of Ewing, N.J., Departmental Honors in Economics;

Congratulations all!

Assessment Survey Spring 2009

Click here to take the Economics Department Assessment Survey for Spring, 2009.

Economics Department Happy Hour

The Economics Department will have its annual Happy Hour this *Thursday,

April 16th*. The event will start at 5:00 at Fortune’s then move to Capital

Ale House. All students, faculty and alumni are welcome!

Economics Club Picnic

The Economics Club Picnic will take place on Thursday, April 23.  Time and location TBA.  Check this space for more details.

Save The Date – Pre-graduation Reception for Economics Majors

A reception for graduating economics majors will be held on Friday, May 8 from 3:30 – 5:30 (right after graduation practice) at EconHouse.  All graduates and all the family and friends who have come to town to see them graduate are cordially invited.  The faculty will be present.

A formal invitation will be sent later, but graduates can begin RSVPing to Professor Robert Rycroft at rrycroft@umw.edu.

Sarah Ball and Tristan Diaz Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

Economics majors Sarah Ball ’10 and Tristan Diaz ’09 were elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa, the prestigious academic honor society.  They join Margaret Graybeal ’09 and Julie Milam ’09, who were elected last year.  The UMW chapter of Phi Beta Kappa is Kappa of Virginia.

Online Course Offering – Summer 2009

Money and Banking
Analysis of financial instruments and markets, and monetary policy.
Prerequisites: Econ 201 and Econ 202

Textbook: The Economics of Money, Banking, and Financial Markets, 8th edition by Frederic S. Mishkin (purchased online or through the UMW bookstore).

Also, you must purchase access to the Aplia website ($35, paid to Aplia.) Note: When you sign up for the class you have immediate access to the site; payment isn’t due until 6/4. You can preview the site at any time!


25% Read assigned chapters (chapters 1-7, 12-16) and complete homework assignment for each through the Aplia course website (www.aplia.com).
25% Read chapters 8 – 11 on financial institutions and banking regulation. Essay on the (ongoing) 2008 financial crisis/TARP program; what happened, its causes, and its effect on the economy.

25% Report on the current state of the economy.

25% Monetary policy recommendation paper.

The course is scheduled during the entire summer session (May 18 – July 23) but may be completed on a different time schedule as arranged with and approved by the instructor.

Tentative May 18 – July 23 Time Schedule

Week 1 – Chapter 1, 2 and 3, Aplia
Week 2 – Chapter 4, 5 and 6, Aplia
Week 3 – Chapter 7, 12, and 13, Aplia
Week 4 – Chapter 14, 15, and 16, Aplia; start State of the Economy research
Week 5 – Chapter 8, 9, 10, 11; start essay research; work on State of Economy Report.
Week 6 – Draft State of the Economy Report due; work on Essay
Week 7 – State of the Economy Report due; Essay draft due
Week 8 – Essay due; start monetary policy paper research
Week 9 – Monetary policy research; Draft monetary policy paper due
Week 10 – Monetary policy paper due

Independent Research Course in Economics offered Fall 2009

Participate in the “College Fed Challenge” Speaking Competition and receive Speaking Intensive credit. Prerequisites; Econ 201 and 202

Fed Challenge is an annual speaking competition sponsored by the United States Federal Reserve System. Teams of students research and present their recommendation for monetary policy. The presentations are judged by Federal Reserve economists, in mid November. Winners at the District level receive a trip to give their presentation at the Board of Governors in Washington, DC (judged by actual Federal Reserve Governors and Fed Bank Presidents). Winners receive awards and cash prizes. For more information about college Fed Challenge go to www.richmondfed.org/educational_info/academic_competitions/college_fed_challenge.

While students will complete much of the research and preparation necessary for the competition independently, they will also work as a team and will receive guidance from Dr. Margaret Ray (Economics), Dr. Tim O’Donnell (ELS), and other faculty members. Students determine when, where, and how often to meet (subject to syllabus guidelines).

2008 Fed Challenge Team (5th District Finalists)

Jason Martin

Dam Pathmalal

Kristen Caufield

Kenny Barnes

Tristan Diaz

Michael Warlick

Stephanie Rzepka

Contact any of these students to ask about Fed Challenge!

“Every potential employer I have spoken with has asked me about my experience with Fed Challenge” – quote from former UMW Fed Challenge team member.

For more information or to express interest in taking the course, please contact Dr. Ray (mray@umw.edu, 654-1485).

Fed Challenge: Course Information

The purpose of the Fed Challenge course is to provide an opportunity for a group of students studying economics to participate in a unique and exciting reality-based experiential learning project. The project focuses on participation in the Federal Reserve’s “College Fed Challenge” competition through the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Successful participation in the project/course requires independent research, in-depth economic analysis, effective communication, and a commitment to teamwork.

The goal and objectives of the Fed Challenge project are as follows:

Goal: To develop and present a monetary policy recommendation for the United States, based on an analysis of current economic conditions and economic theory.

Objectives: The Fed Challenge project will attain its goal by meeting these objectives.

ü Conduct extensive, detailed research on current economic conditions.

ü Identify and understand relevant economic theory.

ü Analyze current economic conditions using economic theory to develop a recommendation for monetary policy.

ü Present the economic analysis and consensus policy recommendation in a convincing and compelling presentation.

While each group participating in Fed Challenge will develop its own specific plan for meeting these goals and objectives, the plan should contain each of the following elements:

1) Initial meeting of the entire group and faculty advisors, as early as possible during the second week of classes. Communication between students in the group prior to the initial meeting is encouraged.

2) Development of a method of communication between group members (and shared with faculty advisors) throughout the semester, accomplished by the start of the third week of classes.

3) Development of a group meeting plan/schedule, accomplished by the start of the third week of classes.

4) Division of independent research responsibilities, accomplished as early as possible during the third week of classes.

5) Run-through of final presentation for faculty advisors two weeks before the competition.

6) Run-through for invited faculty one week before the competition date.

The Richmond College Fed Challenge is held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond during the Fall semester. All participants in the course are required to attend the competition. Participants are responsible for confirming their attendance well in advance (i.e. make sure your attendance is approved by instructors, coaches, employers, etc). Transportation will be arranged and funded through the university. Since the specific competition schedule will not be set until closer to the competition date, you will need to have the entire day available.

Fed Challenge Project Evaluation

Group Evaluation

Success in the Fed Challenge competition (as evidenced by competition placing and judges’ written evaluation sheets) is sufficient, but not necessary for the success of the project/ course. That is, winning the competition is only one of the ways to assure success in the course.[1]

The success of the Fed Challenge project will be evaluated and graded based on how well the group meets the goals and objectives listed on the course information sheet. As a baseline, if the group gives a respectable, practiced, well-researched presentation based on economic analysis it can expect to receive a grade in the “A” range. Note: the group should be careful to make sure that each of the required elements listed on the course information sheet is completed by the deadline noted. Each element deadline missed will lower the group grade by one step (i.e. A to A-, B- to C+, etc.).

Individual Evaluation

Individual participation in the Fed Challenge project will be evaluated in each of the following areas listed below (each area is weighted equally). Individual evaluations will be used to adjust individual grades up or down from the group grade.

  • Independent Research (quality and quantity)
  • Understanding and Application of Economic Analysis
  • Teamwork and Cooperation/Collaboration
  • Contribution to Presentation Development and Delivery

Evidence of success in each area will come from faculty advisor observations (these will be solicited from all faculty involved in the project and synthesized by Dr. Ray), group communications, log and self-evaluation (see below), peer evaluations (see below), and competition judges’ comments. Failure to submit your log/self-evaluation or peer evaluation will lower your individual grade by one letter grade. These will not be accepted late.

Log and self-evaluation: Each participant must keep a log of work completed on the project. Example log entries are provided below. The brief self-evaluation should highlight what you contributed to and gained from the project. It should be no more than 1 page, double-spaced, 12- point font. Each participant must turn in a copy of their log and the brief self-evaluation by noon on the last day of classes. These can be in either a hard copy or electronic format.

Peer Review: Each participant will complete a peer evaluation of each of the other participants in the project. The peer reviews should contain information that identifies and differentiates the contributions of group members. They should be useful for evaluation and be objective, respectful, and constructive. Each peer evaluation should be no more than one page, double- spaced, 12-point font. Peer evaluations are due via e-mail by noon on the last day of classes.

Activities Log

You are required to keep a log of the work you complete throughout the Fed Challenge project. Log entries should be very concise. Your log can be either electronic or hard copy and will be turned in at the end of the semester.

Each time you complete significant work on the project, create a log entry that notes the activity and outcome (what you did and what the result was). You don’t need to write down every time you think about the project, but you do want to be sure to capture the quantity and importance of your contribution. The entries should support your self-evaluation.

Example Log Entries (Use any format you prefer. Concise, neat and easy to follow are the only requirements)

Week 1

Sept. 2, 1 – 2:30 pm Reviewed online Fed Challenge information/resources; printed contest rules, took notes on important sites and resources.

Sept. 3, 3 – 4 pm Online search of Fed resources; found potentially useful Chicago Fed Monetary Policy paper

Sept 4, 4 – 7 pm Collected GDP data and created graphs; Read Mishkin text chapters 12/13; posted graphs and chap. summaries on group site.

Sept. 5, 10-10:30am Met with Dr. Hansen about locating historical monetary policy resources; identified monetary policy history book

Sept. 5, 7 – 8 pm Attended group meeting.

Week 2

Sept. 6, 4-6 pm Reviewed new unemployment data release; searched for articles analyzing new data; found Wall Street Journal article

Sept. 6, 6-6:30 pm Sent e-mails to try to sent up meeting with faculty advisors; posted new data release and WSJ article on the group communication site.

Sept. 7, 2-3 pm Met with Economic Growth sub-group; drafted presentation section on growth

Sept. 9, 3 – 3:30pm Speaking Center consultation on Growth section of presentation.

Sept. 10, 1 – 3 pm Printed out sample Q&A questions; drafted sample responses; posted responses on group communication site; e-mailed econ profs asking for additional questions.

[1] Winning the competition requires many things that aren’t central to the goals of the course (e.g. luck). Therefore, winning is NOT a requirement for success. Conversely, winning the competition does not necessarily mean that the goals of the course were met – it is possible to win the competition without meeting each of the goals/objectives/elements. However, if the group were to win the competition, the project would be assumed to be a success for evaluation purposes.

Economics Alumni Career Forum – Thursday, March 26 @ 7 PM

This Spring’s Economics Alumni Career Forum will be held on Thursday, March 26 starting at 7 pm at EconHouse.  Recent graduates will talk about succeeding in life as an economics major.  Committed to appear are Derek Simpkins (American Red Cross), Katie Teller (U.S. Department of Energy), Catherine Stewart (U.S. Office of Management and Budget), and Celeste LeRoux (America Abroad).

Economics Course Syllabi

The syllabi of department faculty will be available from the Department web page (www.umw.edu/economics). Follow About the Department/Economics Course Syllabi.

Fall Economics Course Schedule

View the Economics Course schedule for Fall 2009 here.

Open House at Econ House!

An Open House will be held at Econ House on Thursday, February 19 from 4:30 – 6:30 PM.  Tour the house, talk to your professors and fellow students, play some games, and have a little food and drink.

Eastern Economics Association Practice Session

On Tuesday, February 17 from 4 PM – 6 PM in EconHouse 102, six fellow economics majors will be presenting their research in preparation for the Eastern Economics Association Annual Conference.  Scheduled to present are:

Erin Beddingfield – “Analysis of Carbon Market Permit Allocation”
Kim Blodgett – “An Economic Analysis of Assistance to Firefighters Grant Money Awarded to Pennsylvania Fire Companies in 2005″
Margaret Graybeal – “Has Income for Young Adults Shifted?  A Multiple Decade Comparison of Earnings, Compensation, and Other Income-Related Factors for Young Adults
Joe Mundy – “Measuring Permanent and Transitory Components of Income on their Marginal Propensity to Consume”
Sarah Restaino – “Gymnastics Enrollment, Obesity, and Olympic Games”
Sierra Stoney – “Homegrown Capital in a World Economy: the Effect of Remittances on Developing Nations”

Be there to support your classmates.

New Department Blog

Professor Brad Hansen has a new blog called Economics and History: This is a blog about economics, history, law and other things that interest me.  This blog joins Steve Greenlaw’s Pedablogy.