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Mentoring Spirit

November 30, 2020 Jim Warner
Jose Fernandez

Associate Professor José Fernandez has been awarded a Cardinal Spirit Award alongside Thomas Teague. Dr. Fernandez was recently named chair of the Economics Department, and is serving a second term as a member of the American Economic Association Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession. He is also a fellow of the Diversity Initiative for Tenure in Economics (DITE), and the former President of the Hispanic/Latino Faculty and Staff Association at the University of Louisville. He currently serves as President-elect of the American Society of Hispanic Economists (ASHE).

José understands the importance of being an active and visible member of such organizations. “I participate in these groups to expand the idea of what an economist can look like. We are a discipline with great influence, but we lack diversity. Relative to the other social sciences and STEM fields, we tend to have an underrepresentation of women and people of color.” In the spirit of diversifying economics departments, he has built a database of economists featuring members of historically underrepresented groups. “It is my way of giving back.”

Assistant Professor of Economics Beth Munnich was among the many who spoke to José’s capacity as a mentor and leader.  “He stepped up to be department chair at a particularly difficult time, and has embraced the challenge — finding ways to support faculty and staff and focusing on the positive impact we as faculty can have on our students this semester, and in the future. I am constantly amazed by his generosity, and he continually inspires me to be a better teacher, researcher, and colleague. He goes above and beyond the call of duty to make the COB a great place to work.” 

“The award was truly unexpected,” says José. “I am very thankful to my colleagues for nominating me. As the comments indicated, I want to see my colleagues and students succeed. I protect my assistant professors fiercely because I want to give them every opportunity to show they are great researchers and teachers.” As underscored by Munnich, José’s commitment to fellow faculty is evident both in deed and words. “When we hire a new professor, it is with the intent to see them succeed and reach promotion,” says José. “I want my senior faculty to be recognized for their contributions. I am generous with my time when it comes to my colleagues both here at UofL and at other institutions because that is how we build community. One of my favorite activities, while small, is sitting down and having lunch with my colleagues. I am fortunate to have such a great group of colleagues. It makes you look forward to heading into the office.”

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