Search committee fills economic professor position

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Some Baker University faculty and staff might discover newly hired economics professor Alan Grant looks a bit familiar.

That’s because Grant, who was hired to fill the slot vacated by Assistant Dean of Institutional Effectiveness Judy Smrha and filled temporarily this year by Visiting Professor of Business and Economics Tanmoy Bhattacharya, was a visiting professor in the department of business and economics 10 years ago. His wife, Emily Grant, also graduated from Baker with a degree in economics in 1997.

Business and Economics Department Chair Kevin McCarthy said Grant’s connections to Baker gave his résumé an advantage.

“(We liked) his record of academic success as a faculty member at (Eastern Illinois University),” McCarthy said. “He knows Baker because of his time here. … We had applicants who would not have appeared to have a clue what we were about; they didn’t even mention teaching once in the cover letter. He knows what we’re about.”

Senior Evan Wright, who served as the student representative on the search committee, said Grant’s experience at Baker was not a deciding factor, but it certainly didn’t hurt.

McCarthy said the search committee began with a pool of about 165 applicants before choosing Grant.

McCarthy said the committee was looking for someone who would fit in on campus and within the department. He also said Grant’s teaching abilities, which he got to show off in a teaching demonstration, “Everything You Need to Know About Economics in 50 Minutes,” were impressive.

“We wanted somebody with a strong academic background and evidence of teaching effectiveness,” he said.

Wright said he was also looking for someone who could create interesting classes.

“I’m looking for someone who is engaging in the classroom,” he said, “someone who’s interested in students and their ideas and their learning.”

Wright said Grant demonstrated his interest in students during an informal meeting with several students and faculty from the department.

“He was just really able to connect with faculty and especially with students,” he said. “He seemed to really enjoy the conversations and the people he was around.”

McCarthy said he is confident Grant was the right choice.

“He’s at a point in his career that he’s maybe perfectly positioned to keep our efforts moving forward,” McCarthy said.