The first time I met the economics faculty of University of Richmond was on a cold, sunny Saturday afternoon in early January 2006. My interview for a faculty position was not going according to plan! As the sun came streaming in through a window, we discussed the difference between the British and the American educational systems, the impact of class size on student learning, and the use of experiments as teaching tools.
Not only was the content unconventional, but most of my interviews (I had 25!) had a common structure: tell us about your research, followed by questions on teaching and then a sales pitch about the school. In contrast – and importantly - this interview was a “discussion.”
I came out of the room feeling good about the healthy discourse, but was soon beset by doubts. Why did they not “interview” me? Did they not consider me a serious candidate, were they just killing time post-lunch, etc.?
Cut to a week later: I got a call for a campus visit. Over the course of a day-long visit, I met with individual faculty members from the department, and this time came to expect the “discussion”: intense and challenging, yet open and friendly. I also met with faculty from marketing, finance, and sociology, emphasizing the interdisciplinary aspect of the university.
Interestingly and (as I now know) befittingly, the only “interview” I had at UR was with the students. They grilled me about expectations, prerequisites, course content and policy applications. I was intrigued by the “teacher-scholar” model the school espoused, impressed with the collegial faculty and dedicated students, and went home hoping for the best.
University of Richmond, undoubtedly, has one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, providing an ideal learning environment, but the people – faculty, staff and students alike – are the core: very committed to its cause and proud of the outcomes. That was what first attracted me to UR and what still keeps me hooked!
Shakun Mago is Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business, Virginia.
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