Office Hours: Michael Haines

Traveling to Venice to study religion and fertility, analyzing the salaries and production rates of women in 19 century textile mills, serving as an advisor to student athletes and rousing students to look at the world from a different perspective is all part of Banfi Vintners Professor of Economics Michael Haines’ everyday life.

“I’m a big believer in a liberal arts education,” Haines, who came to Colgate in 1990, said.

He graduated from Amherst College with an enthusiasm and respect for liberal arts colleges. Haines taught in the Economics Department at Wayne State University in Michigan for 10 years. Wayne State educates over 30,000 students.

“The class sizes varied greatly there,” Haines said. “My macroeconomics class had over 400 students, but my introduction courses [sometimes] had 25 or 30. I also had teaching assistants and graders.”

In light of the drastic differences between the two types of schools, Haines has a greater appreciation for Colgate.

“At Wayne State, students weren’t prepared for college,” Haines said. “At Colgate, the students are prepared! The real question is motivation.”

Haines has thrown himself within Colgate’s community, participating in a number of activities outside of the classroom.

“I’m the faculty advisor for the men’s and women’s crew team,” Haines said.”I use to row when I was in college and that’s the reason I wanted to take the job.”

Haines is also a member of the Economic Department committees and is the President of the American Association of University Presidents. Despite his involvement in other activities at Colgate, Haines’ commitment to economics is apparent when observing his office. Bookshelves to the ceiling overflow with volumes and volumes of economics books. Countless folders, filled with research and student’s papers, surpass their maximum capacity and are scattered about the room. Outside academia, Haines has continued to explore economics beyond his institutional education.

“I do a lot of historical population studies,” Haines said enthusiastically. “I’m about to go to a conference in Chicago about United States colored troops.”

Haines will present his research on how the race, geographical background and nutrition of the soldiers’ stunts their growth over time. Haines is excited when talking about the popularity of the Economics Department.

“For a good number of years, the [Economics Department] graduated the largest number of concentrators,” he said. “We graduate about 100 graduates within the different programs and about a dozen minors, each year.”

According to Haines, 75 percent of all students take an Introduction to Economics course before they graduate. “[Economics] is important because it’s a different way of looking at the world and how people think,” he said.

Haines has numerous expectations for Colgate students.

“I’d like to continue to have students go out there and take advantage of the opportunity at Colgate and throughout the world,” he said. “That’s why I became a professor in the first place. I like to help people, and it is very satisfying to help the next generation.”

Of all the rewarding opportunities available, Haines finds it especially rewarding to see his students grow and mature as they continue their studies beyond Colgate.

“I get to see students go out there, and it’s nice to see them blossom out and discover things they never knew they could do,” he said.