Jim West, Professor of Economics
What is your role at the College and what is something many may not know about the work you do?
I am in my 28th year at Moravian. I have taught Principles of Economics to many, many students. I believe this is one of my most important courses, as it awakens students’ interest and capability in a very important subject. I also teach other economics courses like: International Economics, Development Economics, Money and Banking, and several other management and economics courses. I co-advise the International Management degree. In addition to economic knowledge, I am a proponent of students increasing their physical and cultural geographic knowledge. I have traveled to more than 30 countries and have lived for extended periods in India and Slovakia. I helped develop the World Geography and Global Issues course in my first year at Moravian and taught it many times. Oh yes, and I was Chair of the Economic and Business Department for 15 years. How could I forget that experience?!
My favorite spot on campus is…
my office on the second floor in Comenius Hall because it is in an historic building, it has a great view, it is spacious, pretty nicely decorated, and surrounded by good friends and colleagues. It is a comfortable place where I can welcome visitors and most importantly, meet, advise, and have meaningful discussions with my students.
My favorite college tradition is…
the Cohen Lecture because I had the privilege to emcee that event for eight years and had the wonderful opportunity to interact personally with our many excellent alumni/donors and the interesting speakers, all of whom were well received by large audiences from the College and general public. I am happy this tradition will continue. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to spend a good amount of time with civil rights leader Ambassador Andrew Young during his visit to Moravian. He gave a great Cohen lecture.
One thing that many of my colleagues don’t know about me outside of my Moravian College responsibilities is…
I have and enjoy a large extended global family. We visit them and they visit us on a regular basis. I also love hiking, art (drawing and painting), and especially the writing and presenting of what I like to think is some pretty good poetry. I have published a book of my poems and have given poetry readings to audiences large and small. I am sharing this because if I do a reading on campus again sometime I hope the readers of this interview will show up.
My favorite thing to do when I am away from campus is…
to hang out with my wife. My wife and I are married for 41 years. I met her when I worked in India and we are living proof that opposites do attract. She has encouraged me to do many things and go to places that I ordinarily wouldn’t. She has introduced me to many great friends and also introduced me to the wonderful world of Bollywood. I have been to many Bollywood movies with her and have come to really enjoy (most of) them, and the music and dancing as well.
I like the color ______ because ______.”
I like the color blue because, to me, it is the most soothing color. It’s the first thing I see in the mirror every morning (I’m in the blue eyes club) and it’s the first color I see when I step into the great outdoors. I guess that’s why I have a lot of blue shirts.
When I grow up, I want to be…
saintly, because I’m pretty sure there is something on the other side of this existence and I don’t want to take any chances.
Who is your hero? Why?
I have several heroes, but one who stands out is my paternal grandmother, Katherine “Kitty” Creedon. We visited her homestead in Cork, Ireland this summer. She came to the US in 1910 as a 20 year old, studied nursing, enlisted in the US Army, and served as a valiant surgical nurse on the front lines in France for most of World War I. She returned to Homestead, PA, married, taught her farm boy/steel worker husband (my grandfather) to read and write, raised seven children (six boys) through tough years in a steel town, including the period of the Great Depression. She was courageous, caring, and funny. She took care of us as children when we faced some tough times, and we lived with her to the day she died at home. I think of her often.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
There is only one race—the human race. Also, the advice to never engage in ‘backbiting.’ It is one of the greatest destroyers of trust and unity. This was advice I tried to put to good use managing as department chair.
What sound do you love? Why?
The sound of an airplane safely coming to a landing. I have traveled by airplane a lot, and it’s not that I’m a pessimist, but one bad experience made me forever appreciate the sound of safe landings. Plus, after those safe landings you get to be in new places, and meet new people, as well as old friends. It’s a good sound to me.
Finish this sentence: “I can never resist a good __________.”
joke about accountants. Have you heard any?
What makes you happy?
Being with happy people of all races, religions, nationalities, ages, and sexes, and seeing them working, living, and enjoying each other with unity and good will. This is a glimpse of a ‘better’ future and one that I see as exciting and as a personal mission for my life’s work as an educator. Also, I am happy playing with my grandchildren and whenever I complete a project like an article, a poem, or a home project. Also, wrapping up a semester can be a happy time.