Jo Beth Mertens recognized for dedication to undergraduate teaching and more
(April 28, 2005) GENEVA, N.Y.–Jo Beth Mertens, who has served as an economics consultant to several countries, recently returned from Mongolia to discover she has been nominated for the CASE Professor of the Year award for 2005 by Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education) U.S. Professors of the Year Program was established in 1981 to increase awareness of the importance of undergraduate instruction. The primary characteristic the judges consider is an extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching.
A member of the Colleges faculty since 1997, she returned from a three-week stint in Mongolia, where she analyzed the Mongolian personal income tax system as part of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) economics reform project. While there she compared tax reform efforts in countries such as Russia and Indonesia with Mongolia’s tax system.
In the CASE submission, Mertens, an assistant professor of economics, was described by a colleague as “an extraordinarily gifted teacher. She truly cares about her subject, which is one requisite for being a good teacher. But this is not enough. You have to be able to take the care you have for the subject and the care you have for the students and make that work together. She does.” Another colleague wrote “She brings her genuine passion for economics and the practical consequences of economic theory in the classroom and enlivens the minds of the students. Dr. Mertens is a master teacher.”
One of her former students wrote “I would like to make it quite clear that I have never encountered a professor like Jo Beth Mertens. Not only is she a phenomenal teacher in the classroom, but she is also a phenomenal teacher outside the classroom. To her, being a professor does not end once she steps out of the classroom or leaves her office. It doesn’t end when she leaves campus. In fact, it doesn’t even end when one of her students graduates.”
The Colleges will be notified of the decisions by a national grand jury, convened by the Carnegie Foundation, by the end of October.
In addition to the CASE nomination and her work in Mongolia, Mertens was awarded $1,250 from the Spatial Perspectives on Analysis for Curriculum Enhancement (SPACE) program at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) to attend a course on spatial statistics and offer a seminar on spatial analysis in teaching for undergraduate instructors at the Colleges. The award resulted from a SPACE workshop on Spatial Analysis for the Undergraduate Social Science Curriculum at UCSB. She has developed a computer lab using economic data to introduce spatial analysis using GeoDa software in her statistics and econometrics courses. She presented on the lab at a conference, “Teaching Economics: Instruction and Classroom Based Research,” at Robert Morris University, in Moon Township, Pa.
Mertens has served as consultant to several countries, including Guyana and Kosovo. She has served the U.S. Treasury 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. 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.
Mertens, a 1976 graduate of Arkadelphia High School, is the daughter of George and Sue Mertens, of Arkadelphia, Ark.