College Drops Finance Courses

By Isabelle Dietz

At the end of the 2012-2013 academic year, Alan R. Holmes Professor of Monetary Economics Scott Pardee will finish his term as professor and instead take on the role of Education in Action (EIA) Emeritus Faculty Fellow. Pardee is currently the only economics professor who teaches finance courses, and while the economics department intends to continue to integrate finance into its course offerings, the College will not be hiring a replacement for Pardee.

During his time as professor, Pardee has developed four different courses on finance: Monetary Theory, Corporate Finance and Accounting, Investments and Financial Markets and Empirical Finance. Approximately 150 students enrolled in Pardee’s four classes this year.

Next year, when Pardee is working in Adirondack House, finance courses will only be offered to students during winter term. It is also possible that Pardee will lead small workshop courses during the fall and spring semesters on the subject of finance.

“I would hope that we can develop some kind of program that brings it back into the regular terms, because students need it — there is a tremendous demand for these courses, and students have to get jobs,” said Pardee. “Economics is all about jobs, and we have a responsibility in the economics department to prepare students for the real world.”

Unfortunately, finance professors like Pardee are not easy to find.

“It’s worth noting that a month or two ago, we offered a position in macroeconomics to someone whose research combined insights from finance and labor economics, and who had teaching experience in both governance and finance,” explained James B. Jermain Professor of Political Economy Peter Matthews. “However, she turned the position down.”

While several other peer institutions offer finance courses, finding a capable professor can be difficult. For that reason, Pardee has had a unique role at the College.

“Having someone come in to teach finance at a level that I teach is very unusual for a liberal arts college, but there are people who are willing to do this,” said Pardee. “You come out of the real world and into the world of academia, with a PhD in your background, and work with students. I have been very comfortable at Middlebury because I share four passions.”

These passions include liberal arts, civil rights, the environment and ethics.

“I’m excited to go on to work with the EIA because I will continue to work with students, and I’ll have some teaching responsibilities,” said Pardee.

Though Pardee will still be on campus and teaching during winter term, a void will be left unfilled by the disappearance of the four finance classes.

“A lot of the courses offered by the economics department are theoretical, which means many kids leave Middlebury feeling like they know much more about theory than application,” said Ryan Kim ’14, co-leader of the Student Investment Committee (SIC), for which Pardee is the adviser. “Finance courses provide students with practical tools and vocabulary.”

Kim feels that students without access to finance courses would be at a disadvantage in their job searches.

“A lot of feedback from students applying for jobs and alumni trying to hire students from the College is that Middlebury candidates lack a lot of the hard skills of math and financial knowledge, even basic terminology,” he said. “Professor Pardee has offered a really valuable service in helping to bridge that gap, both as the advisor of the SIC and by providing financy-related courses.”

While the College is not hiring a replacement for Pardee within the economics department, monetary and financial economics courses consistent with the College’s mission as a liberal arts institution, such as Monetary Theory and Policy, will continue to be offered.

Pardee will be working in the Adirondack House to help foster student-alumni relations and aid students in finding job opportunities.