University of Delaware
Eleanor Craig, associate professor of economics in the Lerner College, completed five decades of teaching on May 15.

Teaching milestone

Lerner's Craig marks five decades of teaching at University of Delaware


2:22 p.m., May 15, 2012--Today marks the last day of spring classes at the University of Delaware but it is more than just another year over for Eleanor Craig, associate professor of economics in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. In fact, today is a milestone marking the completion of half a century of teaching.

Craig, whose has been the recipient of both the Lerner College Outstanding Faculty Service Award and the Outstanding Teacher Award, began her career at UD in September 1962 after receiving her bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and her master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

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“I hadn’t planned on this becoming a career,” said Craig of her tenure at UD. “I worked at Rutgers for a year and left to have my first child but after being home for a short time I had to get back in the classroom.”

Craig applied to just one job and had just one interview before being hired personally by Ruben Austin, the dean of the then newly formed College of Business and Economics at UD. Since Austin, Craig has worked with 10 other deans, nine department chairs and six University presidents.

Early in her career, Craig recalled a colleague who served as her mentor.

“There was a new faculty member that joined the department and he took a few of us under his wing and was a great mentor,” said Craig. “We would go for coffee every Thursday morning and talk about the principles of economics, current issues and bounce ideas off one another.”

Craig’s mentor was the late Harry D. Hutchinson, another professor with a long and distinguished career at the University.

Craig’s tenure has also been marked by noteworthy figures with regard to the classroom. She has taught 100 regular semesters, plus winter and summer sessions; led seven study abroad terms in countries like Sweden, France, Bulgaria, Switzerland and the Slovak Republic; and conducted, on average, seven classes a year of 35 students – reaching over 12,000 students throughout her career.

Her affection for the profession is clear. After five decades Craig still speaks highly of her time in the classroom and her actions prove her dedication – she has never missed a single class.

“The students are just wonderful,” said Craig, who is also serving a second term as associate chair for the undergraduate program in economics. “For the most part, you deal with happy, healthy people who are in your classroom because they want to learn. I couldn’t ask for more than that.”

Saul Hoffman, current chair of the Department of Economics, said Craig has taught over the years with “undiminished enthusiasm” and has been “second-to-none in communicating the importance of economics.”

“As associate chair Eleanor has worked incredibly effectively with the TAs to monitor and assure the quality of their teaching,” said Hoffman. “She also developed a great capstone seminar class, ECON436, in which students read a book a week on a wide range of economics topics.” 

Hoffman added that while he and Craig “come at economics from opposite ends of the political spectrum and rarely agree about economic policy, we always agree about the importance of economics and the commitment to quality undergraduate education.”

In addition to instruction at UD, Craig has held a number of fellowships and lecture titles including visiting professor of economics at the Jonkoping Business School, Sweden (2001), lecturer at the University of Lyon, France (2000) and visiting professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania (1979).

She also taught economics at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria, under a USAID grant in 1993, 1994 and 1996; acted as executive MBA professor at DuPont (1995, 1996) and MBNA America (1998); and was economic adviser to Pete du Pont’s presidential campaign while on sabbatical leave in 1987.

For Craig, perhaps the most significant external service was to du Pont, the former governor.

“I served on Gov. du Pont’s cabinet as the state economist and chair of the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council for eight years,” said Craig. “In that role I helped structure Delaware’s Financial Center Development Act in 1981.”

Craig has also served on the board of directors of Swarthmore College, the National Tax Association, PNC Delaware, the Grand Opera House and the Delaware Horticultural Society and currently serves on the board of SunTrust, Delaware.

A Brooklyn native, Craig resides in Wilmington, Del., with her husband. Together they have four grown children and 10 grandchildren.

Article by Kathryn Meier

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