This past Thursday I met with a SUNY-Oneonta College Fed Challenge team for the last time in my formal role as Faculty Advisor-I sent them out of the classroom to the sound of Frank Sinatra singing My Way. Sure, we still have our pizza party where we’ll get together to celebrate our success, reminisce about the good times we had together preparing for and participating in the competition, and think back to appreciate what we’ve learned together. If past College Fed Challenge pizza parties are any guide, there’ll be a few other things said that will make us all laugh, but those moments will best be kept within the team. After all, some of what happens in Fed Challenge stays in Fed Challenge.
My journey as Faculty Advisor to the College’s Fed Challenge team started back in the spring of 2008 when Wade Thomas, then Associate Dean of the Division of Economics and Business, sat me down and showed me a card he’d received from SUNY-Geneseo publicizing their success in the competition and asked me if I’d be interested in putting together a team. I’d attended an information session concerning the competition a couple of years previously, but I didn’t think we could get enough students interested to seriously compete. However, that card from Geneseo in Wade’s hand indicated that his “request” meant that we’d have a team ready to go in the fall of 2008. I went to the Economics Club and together with the help of two alums, Rich Deitz and Rich Yamarone, we recruited five students who agreed to form a team. That fall we got together every Monday afternoon at three in 228 Netzer to work on our knowledge of the Fed, monetary policy, macroeconomics, and to put together a presentation. As the date of the competition got closer, our meetings became more frequent as what we needed to know was changing rapidly due to the ongoing Financial Crisis. The agenda for our last meeting, which took place on the Saturday before the competition, was to decide on a policy recommendation. It soon became clear to me that there was no consensus within the team as to what to do concerning the federal funds rate. I left them in 228 Netzer and told them to come up to my office when they had reached a decision. Two-and-a-half hours later they knocked on my door to inform me that by a 3-2 vote, they had decided to keep the target for the federal funds rate at one percent. The fact that it took them so long to reach a decision told me that they knew their material and were quite ready for the competition.
(The Federal Open Market Committee, the policymaking group in the Fed, decided a month later to lower its target to a range of zero to one-quarter percent, where it remains still. Our 2015 team recommended to keep that range in the first round of this year’s competition, but changed its recommendation to raise the target range to one-quarter to one-half a percent for the semi-final round when data indicated a stronger labor market.) Following their presentation, I asked the team how they thought they had done. The smiles on their faces and their thumbs up were all I wanted-those are all I’ve ever wanted. As long as we have given the competition our best effort, think that we have done a good job during the presentation and in answering the judge’s questions, as well as come out of the competition with better research, presentation, and team skills than we had going in, I thought we’ve done a good job. Fortunately we’ve done that in all eight years that I’ve been fortunate enough to be the team’s Faculty Advisor; the facts that we’ve advanced to the semi-finals in three of those years and the finals in another year is just icing on the cake. One thing we did change after that first year was to give the students academic credit for their efforts. In 2009, they got one credit, but in 2010, College Fed Challenge Preparation became and remains a three-credit economics course.
I want to thank a lot of people who’ve made my being a part of the College Fed Challenge one of the most rewarding experiences during my career at Oneonta. First off is Wade Thomas for his “request” that we take part in the competition and then in August 2010, ensured that we continued to field a team. Next are my colleagues who’ve taken time to sit in on meetings of the team to choose who would represent the team in the competition in New York (I’m too close to the team to do that objectively, so I’ve left those decisions to others); over the years, they’ve included Paul Bauer, Lisa Flynn, Charlene Foley-Deno, Magdalena Lorenz, Mike McAvoy, Jamie McGovern, Maggie Morrison, Bill O’Dea, Dona Siregar, Phil Sirianni, Wade Thomas, Don Trippeer, and Qun Wu. I’d also like to thank those colleagues, add my colleague Barbara Durkin, and many known and unknown students who came out to the teams’ dress rehearsals and asked so many valuable questions, as well as offering their emphatic support for the teams. I need to thank the SUNY-Oneonta Student Association and The Caroline and David D’Antonio Student Travel for Excellence Fund for their financial support in getting teams to New York for Orientation Meetings and Semi-Final rounds; I especially want to thank the late Bonnie Robinson in the Student Association and Kathy Meeker and Audrey Porsche in the Grants Development Office with help in obtaining financial support for the teams’ travel. I’d like to thank Margaret Monaco in the School of Economics and Business for making sure we had color copies of our presentation for the judges these past three years. Rich Deitz and Rich Yamarone not only helped me recruit our first team, but they’ve been there every April to explain the value of participating in the College Fed Challenge; they’ve been joined in that recruitment effort by my colleagues in the School of Economics and Business, and the best recruiters of all, members of teams from previous years. I appreciate that Jackie Lovisa took time to meet our teams on the days they competed in the semi-finals at the New York Fed. And thanks are due to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for its effort to put on the competition. I’m very grateful to Paul Bauer for subbing for me as advisor during parts of the fall of 2014 so I could take care of my mom and then be with my family following her death.
My deepest gratitude is reserved for the seventy students who have been SUNY-Oneonta College Fed Challenge team members. The efforts they have put into the competition have always amazed me; the comraderie that has bounded them together has been wonderful to observe. They have never been intimidated by the fact that they have to compete against the best schools in the Second District. These past eight falls the following young men and women signed up for the adventure that has enriched my life so much.
Thomas Glennon, Abdul Rahim Nurani, Burton Relethford, Gurpal Singh, Rushpal Suri.
Sakshi Bajaj, Ben Birkett, Bryan Folkl, Abhishek Lochab, Halakkumar Patel, Nikhil Patel, Saurendra Shah, Michelle Silsbe, Gurpal Singh, Harpreet Singh, Robert Statts, Zishan Qamar Wariach, Amanda Willsey.
Jonathan Baptiste, Sarah Gravelin, Patrick Joy, John Martino, Daniel McCahill, Halakkumar Patel, Saurendra Shah, Michelle Silsbe, Andrew Turner.
Robert Cruz, Karl Lange, Rocco Matra, Travis Norman.
Angelica Aldana, Lend Anadolli, Kayleigh DeLuca, Julia Fremante, Liam Gallagher-Siudzinski, Karl Lange, Colette Lankowicz, Daniel Lounsbury, Conor Mcelhearn, Landen Parish, Michael Rubcewich, Jeffrey Schnorbus, Jessica Silsbe, David Stanton, Katherine Tighe.
Angelica Aldana, Andrew Boylan, Michael Coleman, Matthew Elliott, Conor Mcelhearn, Abigail Renneman, Kyle Sisco, Daniel Stern, John Tenke.
Mark Alvarez, Mubarak Bawumia, Tim Boss, Andrew Burke, Michael Coleman, Daniel Dougherty-Samowitz, Brendan Mullen, Charlene Nelson, Sean O’Hara, John Perruna, Jennifer Rushlow, Kyle Sisco, Josuette Vasquez.
Elizabeth Benedict, Lauren Bracco, Michael Hodges, Andrew Jensen, Daniel Marino, Jennifer Rushlow, Angelica Salvati, Colleen Shannon, Derek Smith, Michael Snyder.
Next fall someone will have the good fortune to take over for me as Faculty Advisor of the SUNY-Oneonta College Fed team. He or she will do just fine because that person will have the support of my colleagues and we’ll recruit another fine group of students to make up a team, including, if their schedules allow, Andrew, Angelica, and Beth.