Jo Beth Mertens, an HWS assistant professor of economics, has been 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.
A member of the Colleges faculty since 1997, she spent three weeks in Mongolia in the spring, analyzing that country’s personal income tax system as part of an economics reform project with the U.S. Agency for International Development. She also examined tax reform efforts in Russia and Indonesia, and compared them with the Mongolian system.
Mertens has been 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 that “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.”
She regularly teaches courses in public finance, labor economics and international trade, 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.
Mertens, chosen from nearly 400 top professors across the United States, 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 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.
The award was presented in ceremonies at an awards luncheon Nov. 17 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C. A list of all award recipients is available on the organization’s Web site, www.case.org.
The 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. State awards were added to the competition in 1985.