Luther College Chips

Wade Shilts and Nicholas Gomersall to retire

Jorge Contreras, Staff Writer

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Associate Professor of Economics Nicholas Gomersall and Associate Professor of Economics Wade Shilts (‘80) will retire at the end of this academic year.

Gomersall has been a professor at Luther for 27 years. When he first visited Decorah as a graduate student, he did not know that he would end up staying.

“I first came to Decorah in 1984 on my way to grad school,” Gomersall said. “I drove down Mechanic, explored Water Street as far as the Whippy Dip, then turned around and left, not knowing the town was home to Luther College, much less that I’d be back to spend 27 years teaching here.”

Some of Gomersall’s favorite memories of his time at Luther include January-term experiences.

“Perhaps my favourite times were the J-term courses travelling with students to the Brazilian Amazon,” Gomersall said. “You learn along with the students as you confront challenging situations together at ground level.”

Shilts came to Luther as a student before he was hired as an economics professor 20 years ago.

“I always hoped to be able to get a job at a place like Luther, but I never really expected to get a job at Luther,” Shilts said. “I came in the middle of the year in 1997. I started as a leave replacement and eventually got into a tenure-line and became tenured.”

There will be one full-time replacement for the two professors retiring, Nana Quaicoe. However, Shilts will still teach some courses next year.

“We are currently at a tough time for the college financially,” Shilts said. “Everybody knows that. We have two econ faculty who are retiring and we are going to have one full time replacement. Part-timers will be filling the rest. In fact, I’ll most certainly be teaching the Economics History course next fall and perhaps the senior project class in the spring, at least for next year.”

Despite the college’s struggles, Gomersall feels the economics department has a promising future.

“The economics major, like any other, will change over time, but it’ll continue to attract good students,” Gomersall said.

Shilts also discussed the future of the department and the new professor, Quaicoe.

“I’ve met [Quaicoe] and, to me, he is really impressive,” Shilts said. “He has some things to offer that neither Professor Gomersall or I have. He is not a historian, but that doesn’t mean it is going to be worse for the department. I know the people who made the decisions about who to replace me with and their judgement is sound.”

Associate Professor of Economics Steve Holland acknowledged how Shilts influenced the curriculum involving students outside the major.

“[Shilts] has been a strong proponent of ‘economics for citizenship,’” Holland said. “Most of the students who take Principles of Economics do not major in economics. [Shilts] has advocated introducing those students to economics in a way that makes them better thinkers and citizens.”

Holland is also proud of the effect Gomersall had on the department.

“[Gomersall] has long encouraged his students to look at economics, particularly macroeconomics, from heterodox perspectives,” Holland said. “Mainstream economics often makes unrealistic assumptions or purports to explain phenomena we don’t fully understand. He exposes his students to other schools of thought, traditions, and ways of looking at problems and demands.”

Shilts is enthusiastic about his plans post-retirement.

“I’m called to do something different,” Shilts said. “I don’t consider it retirement. I consider it just moving to another stage of my life. I’m planning to do something that is much more in line for my role in the great commission.”

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