Category Archives: Economics

Jebaraj to Serve on National Economics Board

Mervin Jebaraj, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research center at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, has been selected to serve on the board of the Association for University Business and Economic Research.

The Association for University Business and Economic Research is a professional association of leading university-based economic research centers and affiliate organizations across the United States.

“I am excited to represent the University of Arkansas at a national level on AUBER’s board,” Jebaraj said. “This position will allow wonderful collaborations, encourage sharing of best practices and provide the latest in research.”

Kathy Deck, the 2017-18 AUBER president, director of Community and Economic Research Partnerships at the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business and former Walton College director of the Center for Business and Economic Research center, welcomed new board members.

“The AUBER organization continues to add value for regional economic experts at universities across the United States,” Deck said. “The newly elected board of directors bring their enthusiasm and talent to AUBER and will continue the good work of supporting our membership with vital programming and connection opportunities.”

The board elections were announced October 16 at AUBER’s 2018 conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, which was hosted by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah.

For more information about AUBER, visit auber.org.

Thomas Roy McKinnon Leader. Teacher. Mentor. Friend.

In Memoriam:  Thomas Roy McKinnon
April 4, 1935 – August 10, 2018

Soft spoken. Gentle. Athletic. Trusted. Leader. Teacher. Mentor. Friend.

Just a few of the words friends and colleagues used to describe Thomas “Tom” Roy McKinnon, emeritus university professor of economics, who died August 10.

Former colleagues at the Walton College describe McKinnon – known to many as TMac – in glowing terms as they reminisced about their friendship with him and his impact on the college.

“He was just Tom,” said Bill Curington, emeritus university professor of economics and former chair of the Department of Economics. “He always cooperated. If there was a controversy in the department, he looked for solutions. Everybody valued his input.”

“He was the Pied Piper of economics,” said David Gay, retired university professor of economics who worked with McKinnon. “He had a way of getting people to feel comfortable and relax and have a better understanding of economics, to expand their boundaries as teachers or as students.”

Tom McKinnonApril 4, 1935 – August 10, 2018
Tom McKinnon
April 4, 1935 – August 10, 2018

McKinnon earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Southern State College (now known as Southern Arkansas University) in 1956. He met his wife Frances there. After a stint in the U.S. Army, McKinnon began his professional career teaching history and social studies in 1959 to high school students in El Dorado. He completed his master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Arkansas in 1960. Within a few years, he became an assistant principal at the high school in El Dorado.

In 1968, McKinnon completed his master’s degree in economics at the University of Illinois. He then moved his family to Oxford, Miss., to earn his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Mississippi in 1972. After earning his doctorate, McKinnon moved back to Fayetteville and began work as an assistant professor of economics at the University of Arkansas. In the process, he made lifelong friends at the School of Business Administration, now known as the Walton College.

A Lasting Legacy
In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, McKinnon worked with Bessie B. Moore, an influential educator and the first executive director of the Arkansas Council on Economic Education, the predecessor to Economics Arkansas. Moore asked McKinnon to assist with economic workshops for teachers and encouraged him to acquire his doctorate.

With his background in secondary education, both as a teacher and an administrator, and his new position as an assistant professor in economics, Moore felt McKinnon would be a strong director for a new economic education center at the university. With that position in mind, Moore recruited McKinnon, who help to found the Center for Economic Education in 1978.  He served as the director of the center from 1979 through 2004.

Since 1979, the Bessie B. Moore Center for Economic Education has been training Arkansas teachers to teach primary and secondary students economics through innovative, hands-on workshops, creative curriculums and interactive projects. Countless Arkansans have learned basic economics through the center’s programs.

Now “every kid has to have economics in high school,” Curington said.

“He created a large contingency of informed decision makers,” said Rita Littrell, current director of the Bessie B. Moore Center for Economic Education. “Every student was important.”

In addition to his duties as an economics professor and center director, McKinnon served as the interim dean of the college from 1992 to 1993, prior to Doyle Z. Williams being hired. McKinnon also served as co-director of the Center for Teaching Effectiveness, chair of the re-accreditation team and participated and led numerous college and departmental committees.

McKinnon’s influence reached beyond the college to the university. He served as chair of the Campus Council, co-director of the Center for Teaching and Faculty Support, president of the Teaching Academy and helped to establish the Faculty Senate for the university.

On a national level, McKinnon had an impact on economics through various journals and associations. He served on editorial boards for the Journal of Economics and Finance, Journal of Business Leadership andJournal of the International Associations of Children’s Social and Economic Education. He also served as a reviewer for the Journal of Economic Education, Southwest Economic Review and theForum of the Association of Arid Lands Studies.

People and Places

Tom McKinnon traveling in England
Tom McKinnon traveling in England

McKinnon’s  life outside the university was just as full with travel, athletics, family, friends and fun. He enjoyed traveling to countries to learn new cultures and meet new people.

McKinnon, often accompanied by his wife Frances, traveled with study abroad and exchange programs to Lithuania, Croatia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Turkey and more. Twice he taught a semester at sea, traveling around the globe.

For several years in the early 1990s, he would join fellow Walton professors for a rim-to-rim hiking excursion in the Grand Canyon the day after commencement.

“He was the strongest hiker among us,” Curington said.

Former professors and friends, (l-r) Jim Millar, Tom McKinnon, Don White, Bill Curington and Joe Ziegler hike the Grand Canyon after attending spring commencement in 1994. The group made the trek for several years in the early 1990s.
Former professors and friends, (l-r) Jim Millar, Tom McKinnon, Don White, Bill Curington and Joe Ziegler hike the Grand Canyon after attending spring commencement in 1994. The group made the trek for several years in the early 1990s.

Outside the U.S., McKinnon – at age 76 – hiked Machu Pichu, a 27-mile hike in Peru with a maximum height of 13,776 feet. At age 78, he also hiked sections of the Camino De Santiago pilgrimage, a 500-mile trek in Spain.

In addition to hiking, McKinnon ran three marathons, played baseball and basketball and led Walton College Dead Day Float trips with colleagues on the Buffalo River.

In 1988, McKinnon was chosen to appear on the game show “The Price Is Right,” alongside celebrity Bob Barker, and won a 2-door Subaru coupe. His experience was highlighted in the local paper.

In Tom’s later years, he wrote a book, Footprints in the Sand, for his children and grandchildren about his life as a child. He took art classes so that he could illustrate the book.

“Tom embraced everything,” Littrell said. “Whatever the experience, Tom was going to be part of it. He lived life to the fullest.”

Paying It Forward
Littrell met McKinnon through workshops he held for Arkansas teachers. Working in nearby Springdale, Littrell often assisted him with workshops and seminars, training teachers how to integrate economics into their curriculums.

“I’d been a school administrator four years – I was ready for a change,” Littrell said.

During Doyle Williams’ tenure as dean, McKinnon created a part-time center position for Littrell. He encouraged her to attain her doctorate, just as Bessie Moore had encouraged him to do the same. In 1997, Littrell became the assistant director for the economic education center.

In June 2004, McKinnon retired and Littrell was named his successor as center director in August.

“If you measured your pedigree by your mentors, I would have the highest pedigree,” Littrell said.

McKinnon is survived by his wife of 60 years, Frances, daughters Laura Harrison and Lisa Wilson, son Alex McKinnon and their spouses and children.

“People like Tom are difficult to find,” Gay said. “Find someone like Tom McKinnon.  Find them. Get to know them.  Treasure them.”

Economic Researchers Have Paper Accepted by Journal of Developmental Economics

Andrea Civelli, associate professor of economics at the Walton College; Andrew Horowitz, a Walton College economics professor, and Arilton Teixeira of the Fucape Business School in Brazil have had their paper “Foreign Aid and Growth: A Sp P-VAR Analysis Using Satellite Sub-National Data for Uganda” accepted for publication by the Journal of Development Economics. Continue reading Economic Researchers Have Paper Accepted by Journal of Developmental Economics

Think. Plan. Do.

Thea Winston, a senior accounting major from Forrest City, Arkansas, is a thinker and a planner. She gathers pertinent information, dwells on it, creates a plan and then executes it. Information gathering is what led her to the Sam M. Walton College of Business and has kept her on track ever since.

When Winston was in high school in eastern Arkansas, she began to critique her likes and dislikes to plan for her future. She hated blood and gore, so medicine was a definite no. She liked numbers and logic, which led her to work after school at certified public accountant Sharon Wilson’s office in Forrest City.

While there, Winston performed administrative duties – answered the phone, made copies, filed materials – and was able to tackle the occasional accounting task and observe her boss at work. She learned what an accountant does and saw first hand that the work suited her. She realized she could become a CPA.

Her task became: Find a college that fit.

Over two summers, Winston attended two week-long residential programs at Walton College – Technology Awareness Program and Business Leadership Academy – where she met faculty and staff, lived on campus, befriended other campers and applied for scholarships.

After that, her mind was made up. Walton College was her choice and accounting was her major.

Helping Out

Winston’s summer camp programs eased her transition into college. She had made friends at both programs and reconnected with them in her freshmen year. She also met Barbara Lofton, the director of Walton’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

“Dr. Lofton is always willing to help,” Winston said. “She always checked up on me. She gives you tough love and is always there.”

Thea Winston [photo credit: Ryan C. Versey]
Thea Winston
[photo credit: Ryan C. Versey]
Winston’s Honors adviser for the past four years is Jason Adams, the associate director of Walton’s Honors Program, who was always there for Winston as well. She cites Susan Anders, the assistant director of Global Engagement, as another Walton staff member who was equally friendly and supportive.

“She always made time to answer my questions,” Winston said.

With the support of these Walton College staff, it is no surprise that Winston was an active participant in the Honors Program and Study Abroad and scholarship opportunities.

During her high school summer camp programs, Winston applied for and became a Boyer Fellow. The fellowship is earmarked for business students from Arkansas who have earned a 32 ACT or 1450 SAT college admission exams, along with a 3.75 grade point average and pays for her tuition, fees, books, room and board and other academic expenses.

Winston has also received the Arkansas Academic Challenge and Arkansas Governor’s Distinguished Scholarships, as well as scholarships from Tyson and Conoco Phillips. Talking to Walton faculty and staff helped her find scholarships.

“They’ve helped out so much,” Winston said. “I see a lot of students struggle and I know that worrying impacts their studies. It (scholarships) allowed me to focus on what I was doing academically.”

The scholarships also had an impact on her parents who have two kids in college. Winston’s brother, Avery, is an engineering student at the University of Arkansas.

Walton World View

In addition to studying accounting and general business, Winston expanded her working business knowledge through an internship for two summers at Ernst & Young in Atlanta. She also participated in Walton’s study abroad program to learn about Vietnamese culture and business practices.

Thea Winston
During a service project in Vietnam, Winston works with team members to power and heat resident housing.

In 2015, the summer before sophomore year, Winston traveled to Vietnam for a month with five other Walton students. For two weeks, she worked on a community development project building individual greenhouse systems to power and heat resident housing. Working with other business and agriculture students from the University of Arkansas, Thea learned from Vietnamese students who served as mentors and translators.

The travelers stayed on a Vietnamese university campus for two weeks. They slept on mats lying directly on a twin-size bed frame – Winston bought a second mat to create a softer bed. The food also was a change for the Arkansas native. Breakfast was often meat with rice, along with coffee with sweetened condensed milk ladled on top. One of her favorite meals was a beef dish with a sauce. She avoided the fish dishes if the eyes and head were intact.

Thea Winston
Thea Winston

“The first year we went, none of us had much of an idea of what we would be doing or how successful the program would ultimately be,” said Stephen Kopp, associate professor for the Department of Marketing. “Whether she realizes it, Thea was instrumental in the initial and continuing impact of this program. This was a brand-new program, and I was still working on the details. Her consistent question was, ‘My mom wants to know how is this relevant to my major?’ This compelled me, and still does, to make sure that the students understand the relevance of our work in Vietnam. I think she did not and does not realize the impact of her mom’s question has had on every aspect of the Vietnam program.”

In spring 2017, Winston attended the University of Sussex in South England in the University of Arkansas’ exchange program. She took four classes there – international business, ethics, race and ethnicity, and leadership – with students from Russia, Switzerland, the Middle East and England. The experience taught her about multi-national enterprises, racial issues in other countries and group dynamics with diverse members.

During her time in England, she learned many people there knew American politics, but most Americans were not in tune with world politics. She now sees the importance of being aware of global issues including political ones. She keeps up with her fellow students from her travels via social media.

Stateside

At the University of Arkansas, several classes and professors were especially thought provoking for Thea. Katie Terrell, an instructor for the Department of Accounting, taught Accounting Technology, where Winston learned about data analysis and the coding needed for accounting systems. It gave her insight into a different aspect of her major.

Thea Winston [photo credit: Ryan C. Versey]
Thea Winston [photo credit: Ryan C. Versey]
“She (Katie Terrell) enjoyed her job; it made me enjoy her class,” Winston said.

The Honors Economics Colloquium class taught by Amy Farmer, a professor in the Department of Economics, tackled life decisions, which involved economic thinking and decision making.

“Thea took my Honors colloquium course, which is a discussion-based economics class requiring a lot of critical thinking about any number of issues, some of which are controversial,” Farmer said. “Thea was an active participant in that class, adding a lot of insight and perspectives that added to the class.  She showed a great deal of maturity and ability to think critically, which impressed me quite a bit. I look forward to seeing what happens in Thea’s future.”

Next Steps

After Winston graduates in May with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, she will attend Vanderbilt University to earn a master’s degree in accounting. Once she graduates from Vanderbilt, she hopes to work at a public accounting firm in consulting, auditing or tax accounting for several years and then reevaluate her professional goals and direction.

No doubt, her skills at researching an issue, creating a plan and executing the plan will aid her on her journey to Nashville and beyond.