I am an unlikely person to be a professor. As a little boy, my first professional aspiration was to be a garbage man. When my folks went broke farming in Coopersville, MI, we moved to Kalamazoo, and there I encountered garbage trucks. These large, fascinating vehicles weren’t around in Coopersville. Later, my occupational goal was to enlist in the army as soon as I got out of high school. But playing tennis was part of my meal ticket to college, and there I met a professor (Sherrill Cleland at Kalamazoo College) who encouraged me to be serious about my studies and then to consider graduate school. I took his counsel, which led to a Ph.D. in economics. In a sense, I’ve never left school in my whole life.
Most of my academic career has been spent at the University of Virginia, with leaves of absence at Cambridge University, Trinity University, Pepperdine University, and for government service at the Antitrust Division. At UVA, I teach a large introductory course in economic principles and also an upper division course in my research specialty, antitrust economics. Check out my webpage for my teaching philosophy: http://people.virginia.edu/~kge8z/. It is driven by a powerful episode in the life of Jesus.
After many years on the faculty, I still enjoy working with young people. It has been my joy to observe the growth of the student Christian community at what we call ‘Mr. Jefferson’s university’ ï? from one small struggling group to (now) dozens. The Center for Christian Study just off grounds is an important anchor for much of the student fellowship that goes on, and I was privileged to be in on the ‘ground floor’ (literally and figuratively) of that organization. Come visit the Center sometime!
My mother was a devout Christian (I realize that now more than I did then). She died when I was young, but after I decided to follow Jesus (when I was in graduate school), I watched my father come to faith late in his life. What a blessing.
My first wife died young of cancer; I am remarried to a graduate of UVA’s Architecture School. We both love English bulldogs, my best friend having given us one as a wedding present. If you want a dog someday, English bulldogs are great.
I consider myself, by God’s grace, to have one of the best jobs in the world. Indeed, God’s grace is the only plausible hypothesis to explain how someone like me could end up being a professor.
I’ll close with Paul’s words, ‘The saying is true and worthy of complete acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost’ (I Timothy 1:15). I connect with these words. Like all the people on Meet the Prof, I endeavor to teach what is true. But nothing I teach in an economics classroom is ‘worthy of complete acceptance’ the way the gospel is. And there is much truth, in my case, to the last part of this verse as well. I am a debtor to grace.