The History of the Department of Economics

We celebrate that the Department of Economics, Memorial University is 50 years old in 2016-2017

View Celebrating 50 Years of Economics at MUN which took place on March 1, 2017.

The Department of Economics was established at Memorial University in 1967. Before that, Economics was part of a department incorporating a number of cognate subjects such as History, Political Science, and Geography. This department would eventually become the Department of Social Studies, which included Commerce, Political Science and Sociology and Anthropology as well as Economics.

Initially, the Economics curriculum at Memorial University consisted of two courses: Economics 1, Introduction to Economic Principles (“the characteristic theories of Adam Smith, Ricardo, and Mill, together with some reference to the views of Nicholson, Taussig, Keynes, Mitchell and other modern economists”), and Economics 2, Money and Banking. These were intended as electives for other programs, and were required courses in the Engineering and Household Sciences programs. The instructor was Moses O. Morgan, who was actually trained as a Political Scientist. He taught all the courses in both subjects. Morgan would go on to serve as Head of Social Studies, Dean of Arts and Science, Vice-President (Academic), and President of Memorial University.

The first full-time Professor of Economics was appointed in 1954 -- Gordon Kenneth Goundrey, a British Columbia native, who specialized in economic development issues, particularly with respect to natural resources. Goundrey quickly organized an Economics curriculum extensive enough to sustain a Major program in Economics. In the year after Goundrey’s arrival the number of Economics courses offered rose from three to nine; Goundrey taught all of them (these would be full-year courses; the semester system would not be introduced until 1970).

Gordon Goundrey

 After three years covering the entire economics curriculum by himself, Goundrey was lured away from Memorial by Premier Smallwood to become his Director of Economic Research in 1957. He left Newfoundland two years later, but returned in 1971 to become Head of the recently established Department of Economics. He later left Memorial for the Commonwealth Secretariat and later the United Nations, ultimately serving there as Assistant Secretary General for Special Political Questions. Nonetheless, his work during his headship had a lasting influence on the department. In addition to his appointment with the Royal Commission on Forestry in 1954-55, he was sole Commissioner on the Royal Commission on Mineral Revenues that reported in 1974, initiating a focus within the department on natural resources development that remains to this day.

Parzival Copes

Goundrey was followed as Professor of Economics by Dr. Parzival Copes in 1957. Like Goundrey, Copes was a British Columbia native who was also focussed on economic development issues with respect to natural resources. He quickly established his expertise with a report commissioned by Newfoundland Board of Trade entitled St. John's and Newfoundland: An Economic Survey. He was one of the prime movers in establishing the Institute of Social and Economic Research in 1961, and became its first Director of Economic Research. Copes also succeeded in obtaining additional appointments for the Department of Economics; a junior professor was named in 1959, and an Honours Program was established in that year. In 1962, a graduate program in Economics at the Masters level was introduced. By 1963, there were six Economics professors in the Department. However, the graduate program was suspended in the mid-1970s and was revised in 1995, with a focus on natural resource and public finance. Students were readmitted to the graduate program in 1996-97. Currently, the program has a typical enrollment 15 annually, which is up from the five or six students that were enrolled in the program in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

During this period Copes initiated a series of studies on the economics of the Newfoundland fishery. Coming out of this research, Copes concluded that the fisheries would be unable to sustain employment for the large numbers of the population then engaged in the industry. Although, at that time, the message was not well received by the public, subsequent events have largely vindicated his analysis. While Copes left Memorial in 1964 to become the founding Head of the Department of Economics and Commerce at the newly established Simon Fraser University, he continued his work on the Newfoundland fishery there for several years afterward.

After Copes left, the baby-boomer bulge hit Memorial University, as it did most other Canadian universities, and the Department of Economics continued to expand in terms of both faculty and enrollment. The permanent faculty complement would eventually level off at a bit more than a dozen members. The introduction of the trimester system in 1970 led to a redesign of the undergraduate program into what is essentially its current structure.

While the program started with a B.A. and B.A. (Honours), starting in 1997-98, undergraduate students in economics could also enroll in a BSc. or a B.Sc. honours degree program and in 1998-99, our students were offered the possibility of graduating with a Joint Major in Applied Mathematics, Pure Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science. In 2000=01, the department introduced the Economics Cooperative Education Option. The Co-op option was introduced to provide our students with work experience and a source of income while they completed their degree. Our co-op students have found jobs with provincial and federal government departments, NGOs, professional organizations, the private sector and Memorial University. The department has taught 2,500 to 2,600 students annually from the early 1990s to present, primarily servicing students wishing to enroll in the faculty of Business. Currently there are approximately 90 majors in economics, with 2/3 pursuing a B.A. and 1/3 pursuing a B.Sc.

A research orientation in natural resource development continued. Bill Schrank, Noel Roy, and Eugene Tsoa, focusing on Newfoundland, have made significant contributions to the literature in fisheries economics. Schrank and Roy have both been appointed Professor Emeritus as a result of these contributions. When oil and gas became an important part of the Newfoundland economy, Wade Locke established a specialty in this area. Another area in which the department has created a strong research focus is the economics of the public sector, with contributions from Doug May, Wade Locke, and Jim Feehan. More recently, the new field of environmental economics has been pursued by Michael Wernerheim, Anastasia Lintner, Nikita Lyssenko, and Nahid Masoudi.

In 2013, with the establishment of the CARE (Collaborative Applied Research in Economics) initiative within the Department of Economics, the research culture and the enthusiasm for research within the department improved. The CARE initiative promotes applied economic research within the region with a view to promoting a greater understanding of the regional economies and any associated wider social impacts. In carrying out CARE-sponsored research, researchers are asked to involve students in order to improve the students’ skills and hopefully, their interests in carrying out further research in this area thus increasing the knowledge capital the region.

CARE is administered through the Department of Economics at Memorial University of Newfoundland by Wade Locke, Scott Lynch and Doug May. Its original funders were the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Husky Energy, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Memorial University. Initially, CARE received $945,000 in financial support, for a three year pilot project. In 2016, CARE has applied for another three years extension, which would involve another $1 million in research funding being available to the department.

To date CARE has funded nearly 40 projects. The topics chosen for funding though CARE are determined by the interests and willingness of the faculty members to engage in a specific research topic

In 2015 the Department became the home of the Stephen Jarislowsky Chair in Cultural and Economic Transformation with the appointment of Tony Fang, who is a former graduate student in Economics at Memorial University.

Faculty (in chronological order):

Gordon K. Goundrey, B.A. (U.B.C.), M.A. (Toronto), served in the Royal Canadian Artillery during World War II and participated in the Normandy landings. He arrived at Memorial after teaching briefly at McMaster University in Hamilton. He left Newfoundland for the first time to take a position at the University of Alberta. While there he acted as adviser to the national planning council in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and advised the government of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) during its transition to independence. While at the Commonwealth Secretariat and later the United Nations, he was involved in missions to Botswana, Somalia, Papua-New Guinea, Sudan, and Mozambique. Southern Africa at the time was heavily affected by Southern Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence; Goundrey was sometimes tartly referred to as “Professor of Border Closures” for his role in advising neighboring governments in how to deal with the consequent blockades. His work internationally was recognized in 1981 when he received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Carleton University. He retired from the United Nations in 1982 and died in 2006.

Parzival Copes, B.A., M.A. (U.B.C.), Ph.D. (London), served in the Dutch underground during World War II. He arrived at Memorial from the Dominion Bureau of Statistics (now Statistics Canada). After leaving Memorial he spent the remainder of his career at Simon Fraser University, serving as first Head of the Department of Economics and Commerce and founding Director of the Institute of Canadian Studies and Institute of Fisheries Analysis there. He was elected Vice-President of the Canadian Economic Association. In 2005 Memorial University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate. He is presently Professor Emeritus at Simon Fraser University.

Gordon C. Church, M.A. (Saskatchewan) taught Business Cycles.

Shafiq Alvi, B.A. (Urdu College), M.A. (Karachi), Ph.D. (Colorado), taught Public Finance. He was known for cancelling classes if they were in conflict with major baseball games, for which he offered a TV set in his office. He later served as Head of Economics at Loyola College in Montreal, which was subsequently merged into the newly formed Concordia University. He was elected as President of the Faculty Association at that University. He was later appointed Professor Emeritus.

Tom F. Wise, B.A. (Cantab.) became Manager of Economic Research at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Ottawa.

Bhagwant Singh, M.A. (Punjab), M.S. (Cornell), Ph.D. (Maryland) was a specialist in economic development who retired from Memorial in 1992.

Yien-I Tu, B.S. (National Taiwan), M.S., Ph.D. (Iowa State) taught at University of Saskatchewan, University of Kentucky, University of Calgary and the University of Arkansas as well as Memorial; he specialized in microeconomics and agricultural economics. He is presently Professor Emeritus at the University of Arkansas.

Nathan Hurwitz, M.Com. (South Africa), D.Com. (Stellenbosch) was a native of South Africa who left that country at the height of the apartheid regime. He became Head of Economics within the Department of Social Studies, replacing Parzival Copes, and was the first Department Head when the Department of Economics was established. He retired in 1973.

J.C. Mills, M.A. (Manitoba).

Young R. Cho, Ph.D. (Massachusetts), worked on the staff of the Royal Commission on the Economic State and Prospects of Newfoundland and Labrador, which reported in 1967.

Cyril J. Abery, B.A. (Newfoundland) went on to hold senior public service positions with the Government of Newfoundland, serving as Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Chairman and CEO of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro Corporation, and chaired the public service team that negotiated the Atlantic Accord. He died in 2008.

David A. Vardy, B.A. (Hons.), B.Comm. (Newfoundland), M.A. (Toronto) went on to do graduate work at Princeton University, where he received another M.A., and then taught at Queen’s University in Kingston before entering the Newfoundland public service. There he held a variety of senior positions at the Deputy Minister level, including President of the Marine Institute (now a part of Memorial University), Deputy Minister of Fisheries, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Newfoundland Public Utilities Commission, and Clerk of the Executive Council, the most senior Deputy Minister position in the Province. He received an honourary doctorate from Memorial in 2011.

S.S. Mensinkai, B.A. (Bombay), M.A. (Karnatak), Ph.D. (London) served as Acting Head of the Department and retired in 1989.

Murray Weisser, B.A. Hons., B.Comm. (Melbourne), M.Econ. (A.N.U.)

Roberta Edgecombe, BA (Newfoundland) went on to become Professor of Economics at Brock University (as Dr. Roberta Robb). She was Chair of the Economics Department, Director of the Centre for Women's Studies, and President of the Faculty Association at that university. She was also founding member and President of the Canadian Women Economists Network. She is presently Professor Emeritus at Brock University

P.J. Young, B.A. (Windsor), M.A. (Toronto)

M. Skolnick, B.A. (Arizona), B.Phil. (Oxon.)

Gerald A. Royce, M.A. (Washington), Ph.D. (Glasgow) taught Money and Banking and Labour Economics for many years. He retired in 1996.

Charles H. Pye, B.A., B.Com. (Dalhousie), M.A. (Queen’s) would go on to join the Center for Resource Studies at Queen’s University, and later became Director of Economic Development for the Government of Nova Scotia.

Recep Veysoglu, M.S. (Wisconsin), Ph.D. (Missouri), taught primarily Principles of Economics for several years. He retired in 1997.

Jeremiah Allen, B.A., Ph.D. (Colorado) later taught at Acadia University and then the University of Lethbridge, where he became Chair of the Department. He is presently Professor Emeritus there.

William E. Schrank, B.Mech.Eng. (Cooper Union), M.Indl.Eng. (New York), M.S., Ph.D. (Wisconsin) is an internationally recognized scholar in the area of fisheries economics. He led a team, which included his colleagues Dr. Noel Roy and Dr. Eugene Tsoa, which was the first to construct a large-scale econometric model of a major fishery. He has acted as a consultant to several governmental and non-profit organizations in Canada and internationally, including the Economic Council of Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. He was elected as President of the Faculty Association at Memorial, and spent almost thirty years on the Association Executive. While he retired in 2004, he has remained an active researcher in the field of fisheries economics. He has been appointed Professor Emeritus in recognition of his research and administrative accomplishments.

Dale L. Hull, B.A. (Massachusetts), M.A., Ph.D. (McGill) became Director, Economic Analysis Division, Mining Sector, Department of Natural Resources Canada in Ottawa.

Steven D. Antler, B.A. (Wisconsin), M.A., Ph.D. (Connecticut) was a Marxist Economist who specialized in economic history. He co-authored an introductory textbook, Economics Today. He left Memorial in order to manage the family business in Chicago. He occasionally teaches part-time at Roosevelt University there.

Gary E. Riser, B.S. (Utah) taught Principles of Economics and Money and Banking. He retired in 2014.

Noel Roy, B.A. (McGill), Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins) is an applied econometrician and a specialist in fisheries economics. He served as Head of the Department for twenty-three years, and as Acting Dean of Arts for two years. He was also elected President of the Faculty Association. He retired in 2014, and is presently Professor Emeritus.

Eugene Y. Tsoa, B.A. (Taiwan), M.A., Ph.D. (Notre Dame) is also a fisheries economist. He served as Head of the Department for eleven years. He retired in 2012.

J. Douglas May, B.Comm. (Queen's), D.Phil. (University of York, England)

James P. Feehan, B.A. (Memorial), M.Sc. (London), Ph.D. (Carleton)

M. Jane Waples, B.Ec. Hons. (Sydney), M.A. (Waterloo), Ph.D. (McMaster), C.A. (Australia)

L. Wade Locke, B.A. (Memorial), M.A., Ph.D. (McMaster)

John L. Pratschke, B.Comm., M. Econ., Ph.D. (National University of Ireland, Cork) was Head of the School of Business administration in the National Institute for higher Education, Dublin, Ireland when he came to Memorial. He left to become Chair of the Department of Consumer Studies at Guelph University. He became Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration Studies there.

Scott J. Lynch, B.A. (Wilfrid Laurier), M.A. (McMaster)

C. Michael Wernerheim, B.A. (Simon Fraser), Ph.D. (Uppsala)

Rose Anne Devlin, Hon.B.Soc.Sc., M.A. (Ottawa), Ph.D. (Toronto), became Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa, where she has served as Chair of the Department. She is presently vice-dean of research for the Faculty of Social Sciences at that university.

Dane Rowlands was a lecturer from 1989-91 and is currently the Director of the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Kam H. Chu, B.Soc.Sc. (Hong Kong), M.Phil. (Chinese University of Hong Kong), Ph.D. (Toronto)

Bagala P. Biswal, B.A., M.A. (Utkel, India), Ph.D. (Queen's) left Memorial to join the Department of Human Resources and Social Development Canada in Ottawa.

Urvashi Dhwan-Biswal was an assistant professor from 1995-2000 before moving to the Government of Canada in 2006. She is currently the Director for Employment and Social Development Canada.

Anastasia Lintner, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. (Guelph) specialized in environmental economics. She left Memorial to obtain a degree in environmental law at Osgood Hall Law School in Toronto, and became a staff lawyer at Ecojustice, an environmental law non-profit organization.

Nikita Lyssenko, M.A. (St. Petersburg State University), Ph.D. (Carleton)

Roberto Martinez-Espiñeira, Licenciatura (Santiago de Compostela), M.Sc., D. Phil. (University of York, England)

Gubhinder Kundhi, B.A. (Egerton), M.A. (Nairobi), M.A. (Toronto), Ph.D. (York)

Tony Fang, B.A. (Shandong University), M.A. (Memorial), Ph.D. (University of Toronto)

Nahid Masoudi, B.A. (Shiraz University), M.A. (Tehran University) , Ph.D. (HEC Montreal)

Lynn Gambin, B.Sc. (Memorial), M.A. (Memorial), Ph.D. (University of York, England)




Written by: Dr. Noel Roy,B.A. (McGill), Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins), Professor Emeritus