Fifty-nine economics alumni, faculty, students and friends gathered April 13 and 14 at Prince Conference Center for the first-ever Economics Alumni Conference.
“Since the former economics and business department separated into two departments five years ago, we have looked for a way to reach out to our alumni and gather to share stories,” said economics department chair Scott Vander Linde.
After two years of planning, conference chair (and associate professor) Becky Haney was very pleased with the outcome.
The conference began with a reunion dinner on Friday evening. Vander Linde used this opportunity to give alumni a brief update on the department and to recognize professor John Tiemstra, who retired at the end of the 2011–12 academic year after a distinguished 37-year career at Calvin.
Saturday’s program included a series of speakers, all Calvin economics alumni. Kirstin Wells ’86, who works for the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago as assistant vice president for financial markets, started the program with a presentation on “The Great Recession: What Have We Learned?” She was followed by Laurence Baker ’90, health economist and professor of health research and policy at Stanford University, who spoke on “U.S. Health Care: Crisis and Opportunity.”
During the lunch break, Vander Linde introduced special guest John Vanden Berg ’46, first full-time professor of economics at Calvin and former vice president for academic administration. George Monsma, professor of economics emeritus and a former student of Vanden Berg’s, told the gathering that the Vanden Berg legacy, among other things, was abolishing Saturday-morning classes at Calvin.
The afternoon session was a panel discussion on careers with an economics degree, particularly in the field of development. The panel participants included Roxanne deGraaf ’89, now serving as director of strategic initiatives for Partners Worldwide; Pellagia Gambiza ’05, who works for GM Financing and is starting a non-government organization; Mark Jorritsma ’85 of World Vision; and Sarah Reynolds ’01, currently teaching at the University of California-Berkeley and serving as consultant to the World Bank.
Current Calvin students attending the conference were grateful to learn about a wide array of career options from these alumni.