Economics Prof. Zelder talks family at his last NU lecture

Jillian Sandler

During his final Northwestern lecture Thursday night, economics professor Martin Zelder put a personal twist on the subject he knows best: the economics of the family. Zelder, who will be leaving NU next year, talked about his appreciation for the various families he has been a part of at NU. “These are kind and smart people that have really embraced me,” he said of his colleagues. Zelder’s departure from NU is fittingly due to the subject of family. He said his wife is in search of a new job that is more suited to her interests, and they do not know where they will be headed. However, he said, he still plans to teach. Zelder had previously named Duke University as one possibility for his future place of employment, but said this is not confirmed. “It’s hard to find two jobs that fit two reasonably highly educated people in the same place,” Zelder said. During the lecture, Zelder also spoke of the experiences he had with his students, commending them for their work. He said his favorite part of teaching at NU has been their “care and commitment.” “I’ve been continually impressed with how much challenge the students here are willing to take on and how well they meet that challenge,” he said. Zelder also highlighted some of the most memorable CTECs he has received from students, one of which called him an “adorable grandpa” and another that expressed a wish to spend time with Zelder outside of class. Zelder granted that wish Thursday night. “Okay,” he said. “9 p.m. The Deuce. It’s on.” Zelder said he chose to hold informal conversations at the bar Mark II Lounge, commonly known as “The Deuce,” with attendees after the lecture in order to provide a more open setting to interact with students. “I thought it would be a more relaxed environment,” he said. “Part of what I’ve tried to convey all along is I’m just a guy, and I think it’s important for students to connect with me in ways that aren’t so formalized.” Before his seven-year run at NU, Zelder taught economics at schools such as the University of Chicago, the College of William and Mary and Australian National University. At NU, along with Economics of the Family, he has taught Law and Economics and Introduction to Microeconomics. Zelder said he is working on a book titled “The Economics of (Almost) Everything,” which he said will “(apply) the economics in unconventional ways in showing that it matters to people even if they don’t want to be investment bankers.” Fellow economics lecturer Mark Witte said Zelder will be hard to replace. “Boy, the stuff he does is amazing,” Witte said of Zelder’s Economics of the Family class. “I don’t know if we will ever find somebody who can do that. That’s a very specialized intellectual skill set. There are not a lot of people who have that.” Weinberg sophomore Tony Cisneros, who attended the lecture and took Zelder’s Introduction to Microeconomics class, said Zelder is a family guy. “He is really caring,” Cisneros said. “He does care a lot about his family and just other people around the University certainly.” Zelder said although his future is uncertain, he knows he will have two things by his side. “The critical thing about wherever (I go) is that my wife will be there with me … and we’ll have a pet rabbit.” [email protected]