Husted takes Honors College reins

By Marissa Meredyth

“Diet cherry cola — the official drink of Econ 0500.”

If you’ve heard a phrase like… “Diet cherry cola — the official drink of Econ 0500.”

If you’ve heard a phrase like this, most likely you’ve taken an economics course taught by Steve Husted, professor of economics at Pitt.

Husted has a new position now, after taking office Aug. 1 as the new interim dean of the Honors College, though he still has his unique sense of humor.

The recent appointment makes him only the second dean the college has seen, appointed after Glenn Alexander “Doc” Stewart — founder and first dean of the Honor’s College — died April 7.

“Alec always encouraged students to develop their minds,” Husted said. “That’s something I’d like to continue.”

Scott McEvoy, a Pitt senior economics major, met Stewart his freshman year. He described Husted’s predecessor with respect and admiration.

“He was my Honors College physics professor. He never followed a book but was like an encyclopedia of knowledge. It was like turning on a faucet of information. His tests were impossible,” McEvoy said.

“But he always was there to help students out. A leading nuclear physicist who worked with the likes of Nobel Prize-winner Richard Feynman, would still sit down with freshman students for hours to explain simple mechanics. When Husted steps in, he’ll have big shoes to fill,” McEvoy said.

Over the summer, Husted spent a month in Arizona with his wife, enjoying some time off to golf. He recently returned from Hong Kong, where he attended an economic conference. While in China, he also visited Shanghai — where he taught there 25 years ago — to meet with a former graduate student.

Husted began his college education as a political science major at Michigan State University. He tested out of a lot of classes his first year, which allowed him to finish the requirements of his major early. Because Husted needed more classes, his adviser suggested he take economics courses.

“They were hard at first. I didn’t do that great,” Husted said.

Despite their difficulty, the courses piqued Husted’s interest, and he continued to take almost all economics courses his senior year before deciding to continue studying economics after graduating.

His specialization in international economics came from developing relationships with his early economics professors and his interest in their research at the time.

Since 1986, Husted has taught in Pitt’s economics department. From 1999 to 2005, he served as dean of graduate research.

He will continue to teach while serving as dean, instructing an upper-level international economics course in the fall and his honors introductory macroeconomics course in the spring, both of which he designed.

“I’ve been here a long time and have really developed an appreciation for how great this University is, especially through the opportunities it provides to students,” Husted said. “My vision for the Honors College is a place that tries to encourage and promote intellectual curiosity.”

In a couple weeks, the Honors College will go on a retreat, and one of Husted’s first goals is to drill into students the importance of getting to know a new professor each semester.

“I’m really good at remembering faces,” he said. “I knew yours the moment you walked in. Names I often don’t remember, unless they come to my office hours.”

Husted said he sees professors as a great resource for students, whether they give extra help for a class, write recommendation letters or just chat about life.

“But students have to take the first step and walk into the office,” he said.

Husted said going in panicking around exam time doesn’t count. He said he never has students go into his office just to talk, but that they should.

James Maloy, a lecturer who works in Pitt’s economics department with Husted, said, “The Honors College has found an outstanding candidate in Professor Husted, given the difficult task of replacing “Doc” Stewart. Husted has always been dedicated to both the Honors College and the University community as a whole — from instructing courses to helping students achieve their full potential both inside and outside the classroom.”

Speaking on behalf of the economics department, Maloy said it is extremely pleased Husted has been given this opportunity, “while admitting that his daily presence will be sorely missed.”