Associate Professor of Economics Jo Beth Mertens has been named Chi Phi Fraternity Faculty Adviser of the Year for the 2010-2011 academic year. The recognition was announced during the 146th Annual Chi Phi Congress last month.
“This is not an award that is given out lightly,” explains Michael Erickson ’10, a field executive for the Chi Phi National Fraternity and an alumnus of Chi Phi Upsilon chapter at Hobart. “Out of the 56 active chapters and colonies throughout the United States, Dr. Mertens exhibits the truest form of our fraternity’s principles of truth, honor and personal integrity, all while consistently holding the brothers to these same ideals.”
Mertens was recommended for the award by her chapter (Upsilon) and the National Office Field Executive, who visits the Hobart chapter annually and meets with Mertens. The recommendations were then passed along to the Grand Council of the National Fraternity, who made the ultimate decision as to whom to present the award.
In 2005, Mertens was asked by then-Chi Phi brothers to serve as adviser. She saw serving as adviser as an opportunity to help a fraternity make a difference.
“I believe the fraternities have the potential to be a really positive force on campus if they are focused on the right things,” explains Mertens. “I am really very honored and very touched to have received this award. They are a great group of guys and I enjoy working with them.”
She also saw the position as a means to meet a more diverse group of students than strictly those interested in economics. “This has been a different avenue of interaction with students, which I really enjoy,” says Mertens.
Throughout the course of the year, she meets weekly with the chapter president and keeps up-to-date on what the chapter is doing. She also interacts regularly with all of the brothers and acts as an advocate, a sounding board and a voice of reason as necessary.
“From her first days as the faculty adviser for the Upsilon Chapter, Dr. Mertens assisted us through some of the most difficult situations and decisions that any fraternity would have to face, yet also taught us to relish the positive – and there has been an abundance of positive. She has repeatedly proven herself to be the backbone to Upsilon’s success, undoubtedly devoted to the prosperity of the chapter,” says Erickson. “As an alum of the Upsilon Chapter, it is my distinct honor to call Dr. Mertens ‘my faculty adviser,'”
Mertens was named New York Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in 2005. She regularly teaches courses in public finance and labor economics, and may be best known on campus for “Sports Economics,” a challenging upper-level course she created, which includes lessons on how free agency does not make sports leagues less competitive, and political positions on private funding for sports stadium projects.
She has served as consultant to several countries, including Guyana and Kosovo. She has served the U.S. Treasury Department as senior tax adviser to the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and has presided over similar projects in Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Russia, the Ukraine and Nigeria.
Mertens has been a consultant for the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and has taught at SUNY-Buffalo, Florida Atlantic University, Dekalb Community College, Emory University and Duke University.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas, a master’s degree from Duke University and a Ph.D. from Emory University.
Chi Phi’s Upsilon Chapter celebrated its 150th anniversary as a Hobart fraternity this past October. To commemorate its founding in 1860, the current brotherhood hosted a variety of events throughout a three-day celebration. Several alumni returned to campus to take part in the festivities, as well as members of its Grand Council, part of its national governing body. President Mark D. Gearan was named an honorary brother.