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Hodgson named to new Frank Gery Endowed Chair in Economics

Associate Professor of Economics Ashley Hodgson in Holland Hall

St. Olaf College Associate Professor of Economics Ashley Hodgson has been appointed to the newly established Frank Gery Endowed Chair in Economics.

Hodgson, whose research focuses on health care systems and blockchain economics, has taught at St. Olaf since 2011. She earned her Ph.D. in economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and her graduate school fields include public finance and industrial organization.

Hodgson’s research has been featured in a variety of publications, on topics that include adverse selection, diffusion of medical innovation, multiple chronic condition patients, hospital closures, nurse staffing, and jobless recoveries. Many of these projects have included collaboration and co-authorship with St. Olaf students and faculty in other departments — including projects on the quality of coordination in health care and ethical issues around medical debt. Hodgson is a strong advocate for the importance of interdisciplinary connections in research and teaching, for the purpose of deeper and more creative thinking within disciplines.

As someone who believes strongly in creative use of technology inside the classroom and for research collaboration, Hodgson also regularly posts YouTube lectures on blockchain and game theory.

Frank Gery Endowed Chair in Economics
The Frank Gery Endowed Chair in Economics honors former Professor of Economics Frank Gery, who served as chair of what was then the St. Olaf Department of Economics and Business Administration from 1962 until his retirement in 1997. 

St. Olaf alumni John Pierson ’65, Paul Egeland ’65, Jeff Laurel ’65, Mark Olson ’65, and Bob Barsness ’66 came together to establish the Frank Gery Endowed Chair for Economics in honor of their 50th class reunion. They have continued building the fund working with fellow Oles and economics majors, leading to the chair’s first appointment this year.

Gery is known to have made great strides in enhancing his department’s curriculum with required courses in calculus, economic theory, and statistics. He also added opportunities for economics students to link their academic learning with experiential education through research.

“Being new to the college, Gery did an extraordinary job of making contacts in the business world,” says Pierson. “Our senior year was the first time St. Olaf offered a January Interim. Gery used that Interim to secure positions for us as researchers at various businesses.”

Gery helped place Pierson at Northwestern Bank of Northfield, where he researched changes of assets and liabilities to help the bank position itself within area markets.

“I was able to show that work during an interview for the bank’s holding company in Minneapolis,” says Pierson. “That led to a 35-year career with Norwest Banks.” Barsness, Laurel, Egeland, and Olson similarly pursued careers in banking, reinsurance, and data information services.

“Each of us benefited greatly from our courses and our economics education. Banding together to honor him and help the Economics Department is really something we believe in.”