Alumnus of the Month: October 2017
Christopher Jeffords '04
What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra? (strength)?
My favorite class was Industrial Organization, which, at the time, was ECO 169. The course was taught by one of my favorite professors: Dr. Roberto Mazzoleni. It was analytically taxing and philosophically robust, and it also provided an excellent toolkit for applied microeconomic analysis.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
I was a stockbroker intern at Scottrade Financial Services from 2003 to 2006 and, yes, that is a long time for an internship! I graduated from Hofstra in December 2004 and started my graduate studies at the University at Albany (SUNY) in August 2005. As a result of continuing my education, I was able to transfer my internship to one of the Albany branches of Scottrade. Technically this was my first job, despite the title. I learned about financial markets in general and eventually opened my own accounts, which I still manage today.
After graduating from SUNY Albany in May 2006, I went to work for AccuVal Associates (which was recently acquired by Gordon Brothers) as an inventory analyst. I learned an extensive amount of spreadsheet applications via Excel and Access, which I still rely on today for data cleaning purposes. I also learned that I prefer to have a much more flexible schedule to meet work deadlines than a traditional "nine to five" job.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
My undergraduate degree is in business economics. My MA and Advanced Graduate Certificate are in economics and economic forecasting, respectively. I also have an MS and PhD in agricultural and resource economics. Within these fields, my research areas are applied microeconomics, environmental economics, and environmental rights.
Since declaring economics as my major at Hofstra, I wanted to teach economics at the collegiate/university level, which, for the sake of tenure and promotion, typically requires a PhD. It was this constraint that motivated me to pursue my various degrees and ultimately find a job in academia where I teach three classes per semester and try to publish one or two peer-reviewed articles or book chapters per calendar year.
What advice would you give Hofstra students?
To diversify their academic and service portfolios. To take classes that make them uncomfortable and require thinking outside of their disciplinary perspectives. To understand that, while math might seem difficult, it is indispensable in all aspects of life. That learning how to write and communicate well is tantamount to acquiring and applying math skills. To be skeptical of talking heads and to research purported facts. To understand that fossilized social media footprints are not necessarily the types of fossils they want to leave behind. To be good humans and recognize that the choices they make not only impact themselves, but the people and (perhaps) the world around them. Life happens, whether you like it or not, so press on and do good things.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
What is your favorite part of your job as a college professor?
While I love the teaching and research aspects of my job, the flexible schedule is presently my favorite part, given that I have two young kids – a son who is almost 5 and a daughter who is almost 16 months. Maybe when they are older, say teenagers, and would rather hang out with people other than my wife and me, I will use more of this free time to teach more classes or conduct more research! But honestly, it is hard to find a part of this profession or lifestyle that I dislike.
What is the single most rewarding/exciting experience in your career thus far?
Learning from and interacting with various students from different walks of life.
Who is the person who most influenced you, and how?
I hope you will indulge me multiple, context-specific examples from my professional and personal life.
Dr. Roberto Mazzoleni at Hofstra gave me a much needed reality check on my (lack of) preparation for graduate school as an undergraduate, and was an excellent mentor. He provided the foundation for how I aim to be as a professor.
Dr. Lanse Minkler at the University of Connecticut. Lanse always pushed me to be the best economist I could be and constantly went out of his way to mentor me through graduate school and beyond. I couldn’t have done it without him, and his demanding rigor.
Dr. Michael Cohen presently at AOL Platforms. Michael helped me immensely in graduate school, serving as an informal member of my dissertation committee, providing me with countless hours of MATLAB guidance, and helping me to create a highly marketable job market package when I was looking for faculty positions.
Amy Jeffords, my wife. She continues to weather many storms as an individual, spouse, and mother, and she does so with grace and zest. Amy is a wonderful person, a great wife, and the best mother. I couldn’t have made it through graduate school without her, and I certainly couldn’t make it through life without her.
Keith Jeffords, my brother. Keith is a great man, and I’ve always tried to frame my behavior and choices through what I think would make him proud. I couldn’t ask for a better brother and friend.
How do you balance work and life?
I have two philosophies. The first I described at the end of my advice to Hofstra students: “life happens.” The second is “get into my life, get out of my life.”
The former helps guide (I think) my family and me through Team Jeffords drama. Much has happened in my personal life since 2011, including, but not limited to, the stillbirth of our first child at 33 weeks coupled with an ovarian cancer diagnosis for my wife (essentially at that delivery), the pre-term birth of our son (7 weeks early) and his subsequent 6 weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Hartford Hospital, and the pre-term birth of our daughter (14 weeks early) and her subsequent 193 days spent in the NICU at Magee Women’s Hospital and the NICU at Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital. Without going much further into detail, the details surrounding each of these events are themselves dramatic and continue to impact our lives on a daily basis. My wife is now 5 years cancer free and my son is doing great! My daughter is also doing great and lives comfortably with a tracheostomy as her only present medical issue! So, the choice was simple for me: wallow in the stress and mayhem or press on and grow from these issues to use them in a positive way? While the former would have been easier, I chose the latter and attempt to imbue this philosophy through my daily interactions with my family, friends, colleagues, and students! It forms a cornerstone of my flexibility as a husband, father, friend, and professor.
The latter philosophy is more of a functional one that I apply at work. I prioritize tasks, writing, research, meetings, etc., in a way that (I think) allows me to efficiently and effectively manage my time and fulfill my professional responsibilities. If something enters my life that needs to be completed, I try to “get it out of my life” as fast as possible. This might sound crass, but my comparative advantage is not in naming philosophies. In short, this translates into having more time to spend with my family and focus on my personal life. This philosophy does not function well as a way to help manage my personal life as I am at the whim of my wife and kids and (for my daughter) various medical personnel.
Chris Jeffords is an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), and has been a member of the department since 2013. He holds a PhD and MS in agricultural and resource economics from the University of Connecticut (UConn). He also holds an MA in economics and an Advanced Graduate Certificate in economic forecasting, both from the State University of New York at Albany. He earned an undergraduate degree in business economics from Hofstra University. Jeffords is an affiliate faculty member of the Economic and Social Rights Group at the Human Rights Institute at UConn and a member of the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment. Prior to attending UConn, Jeffords worked as a stockbroker intern for a discount retail brokerage and as an analyst for a machinery and equipment appraisal company. He has been teaching various economics courses since 2007.
Jeffords’ areas of expertise are applied microeconomics, environmental economics, and environmental human rights. He has published articles in KYKLOS, Empirical Economics, International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, Economics Bulletin, Water Resources Management, Review of Social Economy, Human Rights Quarterly, Journal of Human Rights and the Environment,and Journal of Human Rights Practice, among others. He has also published various chapters in edited volumes through Cambridge University Press and Edward Elgar and has contributed to the United Nations “report on implementing environmental rights.”Chris Jeffords serves the IUP community in various ways. He is the co-advisor for the Economics Club and one of the founding members of the minor in sustainability studies, for which he currently rotates in the teaching schedule of the required introductory course, and was recently elected co-director of the Sustainability Studies Program for a two year-term (2017-2019). He is also a member of the College Technology Committee and the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, and recently served as a member of the Middle States Reaccreditation Committee.