Teaching From the Heart
Professor Measell and students Hyun Ju Seo, Chen Chen '12,
and Jin Yang '13 gather round the piano in Haggar College Center.
Whether he is teaching a survey on economics to non-majors or principles of macroeconomics, professor Richard Measell never loses sight of the fact that his students are individuals with goals, dreams, weaknesses, and challenges.
As a Christian, Measell seeks to relate to his students with compassion and understanding. He looks for God’s guidance before and throughout each semester (he has taught at Saint Mary’s since 1983). “You never know what challenges and problems those you encounter will have,” he says.
Such guidance led Measell to Saint Mary’s in the first place. As a graduate student in history, he had temporary jobs at the Department of Labor (DOL) in Washington, D.C., but eventually discontinued his education in history when a DOL position didn’t come through for him, and he began his education in economics. “Oddly, the historian’s office [at the Department of Labor] was eliminated a few years later. God must have had better plans for me,” says Measell.
Saint Mary’s students are glad Measell’s path landed him here. An expert in business and economics, Measell works to impart a deep understanding of economics to his students while preparing them for life after Saint Mary’s.
According to his students, Measell is successful in both endeavors. "One day I emailed Professor Measell to thank him for some advice he gave me in college. I told him that because of his classes and his emphasis on staying up to date on news, I had a competitive edge on those in my training program," says Melinda Welch '08, now a buyer with Sears.
The key to Measell’s teaching style is nurturing relationships with his students as well as incorporating real-world examples into classroom learning. “My teaching approach is to find a balance between making economics overly technical and mechanical on side or making it merely current events,” Measell says.
He offers his students both an understanding of economic theory and examples of how that theory is put into practice. Such training helps students to acquire a level of expertise in economics “so they too can use theory to examine reality,” he says.
When he is not teaching or advising students, Measell is a club advisor for the Circle K club and co-advisor for the SMC Right to Life Club. He and his wife also volunteer at Hope Ministries in South Bend. The volunteer experience has helped Measell to better understand homelessness. “God has given us a real love for the needy and an appreciation of the challenges they face,” he says.
Measell is dedicated to that precept of Christian teaching—“serving strangers with Christ’s love” (Hebrews 13:2). His hospitality extends to Saint Mary’s international students as well. He admires the courage it takes for students to enter a new stage of life in a different country and culture and makes a point to welcome and help students through that transition.
His appreciation for others and where they’re coming from makes Measell especially relatable to his students, who he says students impact his life just as much as he impacts theirs. “Professors can tend to overly focus on the top students, but all students matter and seeing where a student is and how we might help her is important. I pray for God to show me how best to do this.”
What do economics and poetry have in common? For Jerome McElroy, professor in the Department of Business Administration and Economics, they are two sides of the same coin. “The thing about our work [in economics] is that you get your information down and you can say ‘it’s going this way or that.’ You make your discovery before you begin writing. With poetry, you find out where it’s going in the middle of your writing.”
McElroy is published in both disciplines and enjoys them equally because they “work both the left and right sides of the brain.” A liberal arts college with a focus on writing well seems to suit him perfectly. McElroy has taught at Saint Mary’s since 1982 when he transferred from a visiting position at Notre Dame.
The professor is an advisor for the economics major, a co-founder of The Farrell Mentor Program, and - like any great teacher - enjoys seeing his students excel. “Nothing is more rewarding to an inveterate teacher than to see his or her students mature intellectually and emotionally.”
Junior economics major Wenwen Bai says, “I majored in economics because of Professor McElroy. A good professor can influence you for life. When I took his Introduction to Macro Economics class, I was telling all my friends, ‘You have to take his class!’” Bai even teamed up with the Saint Mary’s economist poet on a Student Independent Study and Research (SISTAR) Grant project to study China’s aid and trade with Pacific and Caribbean islands.
SISTAR Grants are awarded to student-faculty partnerships in support of summer research and study. “We started as soon as school was out,” says McElroy of the project. It’s no wonder the endeavor excites him - research is in McElroy’s blood. “My great uncle was Sir Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin in 1929 and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1945.”
McElroy will have another kind of accomplishment under his belt at the end of the summer. He is publishing his second volume of poetry, Sacred Traces (Finishing Line Press, Fall 2008).
Regardless of his own personal accomplishments, poetic or otherwise, McElroy says, “I would have to say my two proudest moments come when either a co-authored article with a student gets published, or a student with a low grade at mid-term, with some help, achieves a good grade on the final exam.” For this scholar and poet, his students are the number one priority.