Everybody has a story. Here’s mine: Fifty years ago this month, I left Berry High School for Auburn University intent on becoming an engineer and not thinking much about the whole marriage thing. Ten years later, I was a married economics professor after five crazy years in the ethic of journalism (four as a major, one as a working reporter). Life changed a lot faster back then.
In all of those changes, I’m now pretty confident that journalism brought out the worst in me and economics, by the grace of God, has brought out the best in me. Most of this was from the influence of two people:
- My graduate school girlfriend Jane, now my wife of 43 years, who has made me kinder and gentler – not by nagging, but by the everyday living of life.
- My mentor Professor Kenneth Elzinga at U.Va., who modeled what it was like to care deeply for students, care deeply for the field of economics, and view life as a calling. I can’t describe his influence in words, but this video helps explain why he’s a legend at U.Va.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXMTk4MBTqI .
And to think I had the opportunity to study under him, teach alongside him, do research with him in antitrust economics, and be in a Bible study with him. Yes, there are Jesus-followers in the universities and in the field of economics – but to the extent that we succeed, students of all faiths will be glad to have been in our classes because of our commitment to them and our respect for the varied faith traditions that students bring to their college years.
Many of us can claim that we are blessed, and I do, but that doesn’t mean the absence of sadness. It’s been years now, but I still feel the loss of our friend and Berry classmate Melanie Albright ’70. Some of you knew my brother Alan Wood, Berry Class of ’68, whom we lost to cancer at the age of 67. I miss him keenly. Time being what it is, there are more than a few other graduates from our time that have passed on also. We honor their memory by carrying on.
And, to all my Alabama friends from years past: You probably wouldn’t imagine how I value memories and friendships from our time together, because the years and miles between us. I left for Virginia after wrapping up at Auburn and have not been back much. But for the record: I value all of you and I hope life has been kind to you.
Fifty years out, I wish all of you the best.