Temple Times Online Edition
    MAY 18, 2006
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Beloved economics professor Leeds named Honors Professor of the Year

(Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg/University Photography)
On May 1, Honors students gathered in the Honors lounge to celebrate economics professor Michael Leeds, whom they had voted the 2006 Honors Professor of the Year.

Professor Michael Leeds is best known nationally as a sports economist, having written numerous articles for The Journal of Sports Economics, The Journal of Urban Economics and Economic Inquiry, as well as being the co-author of The Economics of Sports and the upcoming textbook Principles of Economics.

But here at Temple, Leeds is best known for his passion for economics, and for his compassionate guidance as the director of the Honors Program for The Fox School of Business and Management.

In recognition of his dedication and enthusiasm, Honors Program students named him Honors Professor of the Year, an honor Leeds says is “very rewarding.”

“They’ve expressed a sort of faith in me, and I can’t disappoint that faith,” he said.

 What do you do for the Honors Program?
Since becoming director of Fox’s Honors Program in 1994, I’ve done everything from soup to nuts: recruiting, advising, developing the research scholars program, coming up with the curriculum, staffing, and working with The Fox School’s Center for Student Professional Development.

Do you have a teaching philosophy?
Economics is not a distinct subject; it brings together other subjects: philosophy, history, sociology and math. Economics is a science of living. That makes it aesthetically beautiful.

Economics excites me. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to major in anything else. I try to show my students that economics is not just learning about the economy or formulating a good argument about the deficit; it is a part of our everyday lives. It is a way of approaching reality.

Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I can tell you the day I decided I wanted to be a teacher. It was in my eighth-grade history class, and the teacher was grossly overqualified. I was engaged in a way I’d never been before; he made it important to me. And I decided that’s what I wanted to do for other students.

What have you learned while teaching?
To keep it real. As long as the student can relate to it, they will be engaged.

Do you have a favorite book?
My favorite author is Iain Pears, who wrote The Dream of Scipio. I’m fascinated by evil; what is it that causes some people to be paralyzed by it, and what causes some people to be seduced by it.

What’s your favorite quote?
A quote I live by, from Hustler’s Handbook by Bill Veeck, is: “Show me a man who operates on what his logic, his morality, and all his nerve ends tell him should be true, instead of what is transparently true, and I’ll show you a man who is not only going to fail miserably, but who is going to wear his failure as proof of his own basic worth and integrity.”

What advice would you give students?
Take more economics. It’s just a great subject and is it involves each one of us every day.

— Julia Straka