Campus: EAST BAY -- April 21, 2006

Economics' Lopus 'Outstanding Prof' 2005-06

Economics professor Jane Lopus left the high school classroom nearly 27 years ago, but her contributions to teacher training have gained international attention and influenced the education of thousands of high school students.

The efforts of the Berkeley resident to promote economics education are, in part, responsible for bringing Lopus the George and Miriam Phillips Award as Cal State East Bay's "Outstanding Professor" for 2005-2006.

The annual distinction is awarded though the university's Academic Senate and given to a professor who demonstrates superior teaching, research and academic service.

"Cal State East Bay has been such a big part of my life for so long, I can't think of a higher honor," said Lopus, who earned both a master's in economics and education at Cal State East Bay and has taught in the College of Business and Economics since 1979.

As director of Cal State East Bay's Center for Economic Education, Lopus has designed curriculum and teacher training materials aimed at exciting young people about economic theory and its real life applications.

Under her guidance, the center's stock market simulation game has grown to include more than 5,000 high school and middle school math and economics students annually. To compete in the game, student teams invest an imaginary $100,000 in a portfolio of publicly traded stocks and mutual funds. Through the competition, they must apply economic and mathematical analysis as well as computer skills as they play the game online.

With a specialty in comparative economics, Lopus also serves on the elite faculty of the National Council on Economic Education and has trained teachers in ten former communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Asia.

Emeritus economics professor Alexander Cassuto, who hired Lopus as a lecturer when he chaired the economics department, described her as "the epitome of the multifaceted academic."

"The most exciting part for me has been her work in the former Iron Curtain countries; teaching teachers and teacher trainers has made Jane a crucial part of the future economic development of the countries involved in economic education," he said in a letter supporting Lopus' nomination as the outstanding professor. "What greater satisfaction can an academic have than to make a real difference in the quality of life?"

When she arrived on campus as a student in 1974, Lopus said, she never imagined all these years later she'd be an economics professor here.

Lopus had earned a bachelor's degree in political science at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, before coming to Cal State East Bay. She was teaching high school history when the school's economics teacher went on sabbatical. As the junior history teacher, Lopus was told she'd have to teach six classes of senior economics.

"I started really loving economics when I started teaching it in high school," she said. "I think economics is critically relevant and important for students to understand the world around them."

While she was still a high school teacher, Cassuto tapped Lopus to teach at the university during a summer session. That was the year her first daughter was born - on the day of the final exam.

In 1982 she became director of the Center for Economic Education, the entity responsible for running the stock market game and providing local teacher seminars and training sessions. She continued to teach at Cal State East Bay and pursued a doctorate in economics at UC Davis, commuting a couple days a week to classes while teaching and raising a family.

Lopus also publishes extensively in the field of economics education and is currently the president of the National Association of Economic Educators. In 2003 she won the Villard Award for Research in Economic Education.

As an international trainer of secondary teachers, she has worked in Russia, Estonia, Azerbaijan, and other former Soviet Union and Eastern European nations such as Romania, Kazakhstan, and Hungary. Last summer she gave a workshop in Egypt and in 2006 will conduct a workshop in South Africa.

"It's been incredible," Lopus said of her international training experiences. "It is very interesting from a perspective of an economist to teach people who studied under a different economic system. It's also interesting from a pedagogical perspective since we emphasize active learning, and the former Soviet teachers tend to be more formal."

Lopus has written and edited global economics curriculum projects for the National Council on Economic Education and the International Monetary Fund. The international exposure, she said, adds depth to the undergraduate and graduate courses she teaches at Cal State East Bay.

"I love the students here, the diversity of the students and their excitement for learning," she said.

In turn students have given Lopus consistently high evaluations and many have written to her their appreciation for what they learned in her courses.

David Paul Lusch, a 2002 graduate, had this to say in a January letter to Lopus: "Your classes were what gave me the tools and abilities to decipher economics. This is a true gift because it has enhanced my life and career in business, as well as gave me tools that will serve and help me for the rest of my life."

Another student, Meiliang Liu, thanked Lopus for helping her gain confidence to speak out in class. "No matter how hard the circumstances Dr. Lopus is always there to help. She is very responsible to students, and she taught me by example the value of helping others beyond her obligations. I fell lucky to have her as my university professor. Students need and deserve more professors like Dr. Lopus."

Contact: Donna Hemmila, Associate Dir. of Public Affairs, (510) 885-4295

Public Affairs Offices/Campus News
[Bakersfield] [Chancellor's Office] [Channel Islands] [Chico]
[Dominguez Hills] [East Bay] [Fresno] [Fullerton] [Humboldt] [Long Beach] [Los Angeles] [Maritime Academy] [Monterey_Bay] [Northridge] [Pomona] [Sacramento] [San Bernardino] [San Diego] [San Francisco] [San Jose] [San Luis Obispo] [San Marcos] [Sonoma] [Stanislaus]