OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University economics professor Therese Grijalva has been named the 2013 John S. Hinckley Fellow, and WSU’s executive committee for the National Conference on Undergraduate Research is the 2013 Exemplary Collaboration Award winner.
Grijalva joined the Department of Economics in 2000. Whether teaching an introductory economics course or a class in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, she brings an enthusiasm that resonates with undergraduate and graduate students alike.
In her Economics 1010 course, Grijalva connects the subject to social issues, and by integrating current events into the curriculum, she stimulates discussions of how economics plays a role in everyday life. For example, she used the 2012 presidential election to initiate discussions on controversial economic issues like tax cuts, government spending and income inequality.
Grijalva once was not as passionate about economics as she is now, but she uses that experience to make the subject more interesting. “I did not understand or appreciate the importance of economics as an undergraduate,” said Grijalva, who earned her bachelor’s degree in finance at Florida State University and her MBA from Cleveland State University. A concern for the environment, however, and the realization that economics impacts the efficient use of scarce environmental resources, led to Grijalva earning a Ph.D. in economics from the University of New Mexico.
“I had been working in Chicago, and I remember looking at my recycling bin at the end of every day and thinking about the tremendous amount of paper we waste. And that was just me and just one cubicle,” Grijalva said. “I wanted to know more how economics impacted the environment. That became my passion, and I think that passion comes through in my teaching.”
An environmental economist, Grijalva, along with three faculty members from the Goddard School of Business & Economics, created the first-of-its-kind graduate curriculum in Utah targeting environmental sustainability for businesses. Each of the four members of the team were named “Green Pioneers” by “Utah Business Magazine.”
Across campus, Grijalva is well known for her work with undergraduate researchers. Her students have published in “Ergo,” WSU’s undergraduate research journal, and one student traveled internationally for the first time in his life to conduct research with Grijalva in Mexico. She was also instrumental in creating a research-focused capstone course in the economics department, mentoring a large number of students, some international.
“Undergraduate research is so incredibly important,” Grijalva said. “It can have a tremendous impact and can inspire students to pursue their education even further. When it does, that makes your day; that gets you excited.”
Grijalva has published more than 17 peer-reviewed articles, several of which have appeared in such highly ranked journals as “Land Economics” and “American Journal of Agricultural Economics.” These successes have contributed to her growing national reputation as a scholar in the expanding field of environmental economics.
“Therese is a true ‘triple threat,’ excelling in teaching, scholarship and service,” wrote a colleague in nominating her for the Hinckley Award. “She is an exemplary colleague who inspires both students and her fellow faculty members to excel.”
Since 1991, the Hinckley Award has been bestowed upon a member of the WSU faculty who has excelled in teaching, scholarship and service. The award is named in honor of Ogden businessman and WSU supporter John S. Hinckley, who died in 1990.
The university’s executive committee for the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) received the 2013 Exemplary Collaboration Award, in recognition of the teamwork demonstrated in hosting the event at WSU in March 2012.
Chosen through a competitive bidding process, WSU was selected because of its long history of actively supporting and taking a leadership role in undergraduate research.
The foremost undergraduate research conference in the country, the 2012 conference brought together 3,158 students, faculty and administrators from 333 institutions of higher education, 46 states and seven countries. Representing more than 60 academic disciplines, they spent three days at WSU presenting their original research, scholarly and creative projects.
The NCUR 2012 executive committee included John Cavitt, Amy Douangdara and Erin Daniels from WSU’s Office of Undergraduate Research; associate provost Ryan Thomas; medical laboratory sciences department chair Scott Wright; and psychology professor Lauren Fowler. In addition, a committee of 32, including students, faculty, staff, administrators and community representatives, helped with the monumental task of preparing for and implementing the event, which had an estimated $2.6 million economic impact on northern Utah and an invaluable impact on students.
“This amazing and dedicated group of people pulled together an event that continues to have an important impact on our university and community,” said Cavitt, WSU’s director of undergraduate research. “Although the conference has come and gone, we feel that the experience and learning opportunities that were afforded to WSU students, faculty, staff and alumni will carry into our future. Our students were thrilled to have the opportunity to share their research and establish contacts in their fields of study. They received national recognition and many were published in the peer-reviewed ‘NCUR Proceedings.’ NCUR 2012 put Weber State University on the map as an institution of higher education, where students go above and beyond with their education.”
The university will formerly recognize the recipients of both awards at a luncheon on March 12.
Michael Vaughan, provost
Therese Grijalva, economics professor
John Cavitt, director, WSU’s Office of Undergraduate Research
Amy Hendricks, office of Media Relations