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Economics department seeks to hire two macro professors

It’s not easy to get tenure at Carleton, and it’s also not easy to recruit macroeconomists to the college.

After a failed search last spring, the Economics department is looking to hire two tenure-track macroeconomics professors. The initial search failed after the two candidates who received offers both declined, deciding instead to teach at other liberal arts colleges, according to Chair of Economics Jenny Bourne. “It wasn’t that we did anything wrong, it’s just a competitive market,” Bourne said. “Hopefully we’ll be in good shape this year.”

The department had planned to look for one macroeconomist, but when former professor Ben Keefer resigned last spring, two positions needed to be filled, Bourne said. Keefer’s departure was amicable on both sides as the tenure-track macroeconomist wanted to go in a different direction, Bourne added. Keefer declined to comment for this story.

It’s not entirely uncommon for tenure-track professors to leave the tenure track. “We’ve had a few leave because their spouse got a job somewhere else, or they wanted to move somewhere warmer,” Bourne said. “Economists have a lot of options, and I think there’s a lot more movement in the economics profession than in other departments.”

Macroeconomists in particular have plenty of opportunities beyond academia, such as the Federal Reserve, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Bourne said.

Carleton’s Economics Department is specifically looking for macroeconomists who specialize in international economics and financial economics, but not necessarily because these areas are not already covered. Currently, Assistant Professor of Economics Prathi Seneviratne teaches International Finance and International Trade, and Assistant Professor of Economics Yaniv Ben-Ami teaches Investment Finance and is slated to teach Corporate Finance, Bourne said. The department has ramped up its finance offerings because of student interest, she explained.
But the department could still benefit from two additional macroeconomists to teach introductory- and intermediate-level courses in addition to electives. Professors Faress Bhuiyan and Nathan Grawe have both taught Principles of Macroeconomics, one of the department’s intro-level classes, and Grawe has also taught Intermediate Macroeconomics in the past.

When asked about the department’s balance between macroeconomics and microeconomics, Bourne said, “we’re a little short on macro right now.” The department currently has two macroeconomists, Ethan Struby and Yaniv Ben-Ami. In total, the department has nine full-time faculty and two visiting professors.

“In conversations with my peers, I have never heard complaints concerning the number of macro classes being offered,” said Economics Student Departmental Advisor Katie Rose Parsons.

“That said, it makes things harder on the faculty of any department when there isn’t a proper balance among the professors,” she continued.

“While I believe the econ department is doing their best given their resources right now, I also believe that hiring two new macro profs will allow the department and its faculty to be even more effective in providing students with a rich economics experience,” Parsons said.

Parsons also noted that her “dream is for the econ department to hire a female macro professor, but this is challenging.” Echoing Bourne, Parsons explained that “Macro profs are difficult to attract because of the more lucrative opportunities they can pursue in the private sector, and because macro is already a male-heavy field.”

The search process isn’t as simple as submitting an application online. “Economists believe in markets,” Bourne said. This means that job-seekers and employers alike go to the American Economic Association’s (AEA) Annual Meetings, which tend to bring in thousands of economists from around the world, Bourne added. Carleton’s Economics department generally gets an applicant pool of around 400, from which 25 are selected for interviews at the AEA Annual Meeting. From there, the college narrows down and flies back three candidates. “Then we hopefully have an offer out and somebody accepts it,” Bourne said.
Having tenure-track and tenured professors is “still a model that works well for a place like Carleton, because there’s more longevity and more buy-in for the department and for the college,” Bourne said.

“We prefer having tenure-track because then they can be fully involved in the department and students get to know them,” Bourne added.

In the meantime, visiting professors help fill in leave replacements, teach principles courses, or teach special topics.

“Regardless of what happens with the hiring process, I am confident in the Economics department and the education they provide for Carleton students,” said Parsons.

Applications for the tenure-track vacancies are due November 27, 2019, for an anticipated start date beginning in the fall of the 2020-21 academic year.

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