Classroom great

Economist David Garman wins teaching award

“I never thought a teacher could have such a large impact on my life. When I sat in his office, he made me feel like the world was mine to conquer.” So wrote a student about his teacher and mentor, David Garman, associate professor of economics, who is the 2007 recipient of the Lillian and Joseph Leibner Award for Distinguished Teaching and Advising.

David Garman, a natural in the classroom © ALONSO NICHOLS

The annual award is presented to a faculty member in Arts, Sciences and Engineering who is deemed exceptional in the classroom by students and colleagues. Garman will receive the award at the faculty meeting on May 16.

Garman joined the Tufts faculty in 1984, and his classes in econometrics (the use of statistical methods to study economic problems), while challenging, have been widely praised by his students. “This was a very difficult class, but Prof. Garman had real concern for his students’ progress and really wanted us to learn the material,” wrote one student about the class Econometric Analysis. “I probably learned more in this class than in any of my previous classes at Tufts,” another wrote. “Prof. Garman is one of the best, most enthusiastic professors I’ve encountered here at Tufts.”

As a co-developer of the Department of Economics’ major in quantitative economics, Garman’s “contribution to our undergraduate program has been phenomenal,” said Enrico Spolaore, department chair. “He was the first in our department to teach our challenging quantitative economics courses.” Garman served as chair of the department from 1995 to 2002.

While Garman’s primary scholarship is in applications of econometrics, he also has done work on wage-price flexibility in U.S. industries, the determinants of presidential popularity and the impact of college attendance on earnings. His work has been published in professional journals, including the American Economic Review, the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking and the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

His students, however, have been the real beneficiaries of his scholarship. “I think that is where the distinction lies when you are talking about good teachers and those who were born to teach and love it,” reads the nomination statement for the Senior Class Council’s Friend of the Hill Award, which Garman received in 1994. He earned the Arts, Sciences & Engineering Faculty/Staff Multicultural Service Award in 2004 for his work in defining Tufts “as a multicultural environment in which race, ethnicity, religion, class, gender and sexual orientation are not barriers to the full enjoyment of community membership.”

But perhaps the truest measure of a great teacher extends well beyond what happens during four years of undergraduate education: “I earned tenure just last year … I truly have the best job in the world,” one of Garman’s former students wrote. “David is among a handful of people to whom I owe an enormous debt of gratitude for helping me find my way here. David’s teaching, advice and friendship have been invaluable to me … He loves economics, he cares about his students, and he takes the time and effort to do whatever he can to help them, not just while they are at Tufts, but for as long as they need him.”

This story appeared in the Tufts Journal in May 2007.