Dr. Stephen SmithDr. Stephen Smith

The name of the endowed position held by economist Dr. Stephen Smith of the Hope College faculty has changed by just one word, but the difference reflects a major new way for Hope to honor and support professors who have leadership responsibilities along with their roles as teachers and scholars.

A member of the faculty since 2016, Smith had been appointed to the college’s Robert W. Haack Professorship in Economics last fall.  As confirmed by the college’s Board of Trustees earlier this month, the position is now the Robert W. Haack Chair in Economics, recognizing Smith’s additional service as the department’s section head for economics and leadership of the department’s May Terms to Asia.  This spring, he and co-leader Jackie Nickel, who is an assistant professor of business instruction and Ruch Executive in Residence, led a May Term in Japan and Vietnam focused on the economic and business dimensions of those countries’ modern growth.  In the new academic year, he will serve as director of the advisory council that supervises Hope’s inter-disciplinary global studies major.

It’s the first endowed position at Hope in the new category of “chair” or “director.”  The title doesn’t involve being the chairperson of one of the college’s academic departments, but instead honors an outstanding faculty member who oversees broader programming than is reflected by appointment to Hope’s endowed professorships.

“I am excited to honor Stephen’s incredible work and the encouraging spirit in which he does this work,” said Dr. Gerald Griffin, who as Hope’s provost is the college’s chief academic officer.  “This opportunity allows for Dr. Smith to advance his research program as well as academic opportunities that merge programmatic activities in economics and global studies.”

Smith joined the Hope faculty after teaching for 29 years at Gordon College in Massachusetts. His research and writing focus on international trade, global economic development and growth — topics he addresses both technically and in terms of Christian theology and ethics.  He teaches Economic Growth and Development, International Economics, Econometrics and introductory courses in microeconomics. His publications include the book “Economic Growth: Unleashing the Power of Human Flourishing” (2013), which he co-authored, and articles in Christian Scholars Review, Faith & Economics, Southern Economic Journal, and Global Economy Journal.

He is president of the Association of Christian Economists, whose journal, Faith & Economics, he edited for many years. He is also a member of the American Economic Association and the Southern Economic Association. He was a visiting professor in 2021 at American Enterprise Institute’s Initiative on Faith & Public Life, where for eight years he led that program’s Summer Honors Seminar on Global Economic Development.

In addition to recognizing faculty members for excellence, endowed professorships provide funding for summer research projects as well as some salary support. Hope has had endowed positions since the 19th century, and currently has 25 endowed professorships for faculty and eight endowed administrative positions.

Along with reflecting the recipient’s responsibilities, the new designation of chair or director provides enhanced annual funding for professional use and departmental programming.  Hope also awards endowed deanships for faculty with divisional or institution-wide roles.  The college’s fundraising efforts include seeking to establish more of the positions, with the endowments providing funding in perpetuity — ultimately also supporting the “Hope Forward” initiative through which Hope seeks to increase its overall endowment to help fully fund tuition for all of its students.

The Robert W. Haack Professorship of Economics was established in 1991 by Mr. Robert W. Haack ’38, a distinguished business leader, most notably as president and chief executive officer of the New York Stock Exchange and chairman and chief executive officer of Lockheed Corporation. Following retirement, he served as a member of the Board of Directors of a number of major U.S. corporations. The professorship/chair is to be held by an economist of established national reputation who is dedicated to the professional field of economics and to the excellent education of undergraduate students, including teaching lower- as well as upper-level courses and mentoring students through collaborative research in economics.  It was enhanced to the level of chair through additional gifts to the original endowment by Haack’s son and daughter-in-law, Thomas and Olga Haack, and through the estate of Haack’s daughter, Elizabeth Haack-Barr.