Towards new beginnings

Dr. Jeremy Bray takes over as the new head of the Department of Economics at Bryan School of Business and Economics.

UNCG alumnus and adjunct professor Dr. Jeremy Bray was recently appointed as the head of Economics department. He was earlier a Senior Fellow in Health Economics at RTI International. Jeremy is a renowned name in research on economics of substance abuse, mental health issues and behavioral health interventions.

With this appointment, life has come to a full circle for Jeremy.

It feels like coming home. But it is also the next phase of my career. Research and academics are really connected.

Jeremy is aware of the strangeness of it all, being the department head with a department full of people who taught him the basics of economics.

I have been so interactive with them post my Master’s program that they’ve really become my colleagues and friends. Having them here and wanting me to succeed, I know they are supporting me. In that sense, it is very comforting.

For his success, Jeremy credits Dr. Stuart Allen, the previous head of Economics department.

Stu was my thesis advisor. He is also the reason why I am an economist. I have great fondness for him and big shoes to fit in.

The Economics department took a big vote of confidence in Jeremy’s vision and ability to guide them towards the future.

This is a great department and has tremendous potential to be even greater. I am excited and honored to be a part of it.

Jeremy has taught at Duke University and at UNCG for the last few years. He is also an adjunct faculty member at University College, Dublin. In his 21 years at RTI, he managed scientists and researchers and oversaw important studies that have had health policy implications. By heading the Economics department now, he would be simply branching out, he says.

My learning curve will be the academic systems and the course planning and accreditation standards and making sure I have the right faculty teaching the right courses in the right time slots and meeting the main considerations of the Bryan School.

According to him, the Economics department has an important role to play in the broader business school curriculum.

We’ve got to make sure that we are delivering the right content and getting students to be where they need to be – for accounting to finance. I think we need to stay focused on training the work force; and prepare them for new jobs.

With technology and globalization driving the economics of the world, it is imperative that the economics courses taught at UNCG give the students the opportunity to look at the subject with a broader perspective.

All they need now is a laptop and Starbucks.  And they can work for companies in U.K, China, Brazil… It’s about knowing how to teach themselves new skills. Our economics program gives the students skill sets that can be used in different areas and transcends borders.

Jeremy is currently focusing on increasing the recruitment of undergraduate and graduate students.  The PhD program is yet another prominent area that he wants to work on.

We are a PhD level program. There is a different set of expectations and we need to strive for it. We need to make the people aware and work on maintaining that and growing our research presence.

Jeremy’s long term plan includes building connections nationally and internationally with the right universities; developing exchange programs; and attracting students across the other disciplines for higher level studies in the economics program.  He wants the Economics department at Bryan School of Business and Economics to be recognized as a leading program across the country.

We are shaking up things a little bit, but in the long run, it will be good for the department.

By Aparna Das, Contributor
Photography by Bert VanderVeen