Nebraska Wesleyan University will say goodbye in May to a faculty dynamo and university fixture: retiring Professor of Economics Loretta Fairchild (’66). Fairchild graduated from NWU with majors in German and chemistry, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in economic development and public finance from Cornell University in 1972.
After short teaching stints in Monterrey, Mexico, and La Crosse, Wisc., Fairchild returned to Nebraska Wesleyan in 1975. She has worked at NWU ever since, teaching here longer than some of her faculty colleagues have been alive.
Associate Professor of Business Administration Thom Jackman (’84) has been Fairchild’s student and colleague. He recalled pranks from his student days, like placing her erasers and ruler on the top edge of the chalkboard where Fairchild couldn’t hope to reach.
Mischief aside, Jackman spoke of the deep respect her students and colleagues feel for her. “To this day, I call her Dr. Fairchild. She tells me to call her Lori, but I can’t help it.”
Her long tenure at Nebraska Wesleyan should not be mistaken for evidence that Fairchild is inclined to sit still. She returned to Monterrey to conduct research on a Fulbright fellowship in 1984, and spent two sabbatical years (2002-2003 and 2009-2010) in Melbourne, Australia. On her most recent trip to Melbourne, Fairchild conducted water scarcity research in the Murray-Darling Basin—a topic with possible water-usage policy implications for Nebraska.
The final years of Fairchild’s career teaching economics at NWU have coincided with one of the most tumultuous economic periods in modern American history. Fairchild has proven an especially willing resource for her students, colleagues and NWU alumni seeking to better understand the crisis. She served as a primary source in the winter 2008-2009 Archways cover story on the economic crisis’s triggers (“A Crisis of Ethic Proportions”). She is also routinely sought by Lincoln and Omaha media for her analysis of the economy.
“Dr. Loretta Fairchild has a passion for the liberal arts, for economics especially within the international context, and for quality instruction,” said Provost Judy Muyskens. “She is devoted to student success and spends many hours advising students. Lori is currently working with Dean Kathy Wolfe to develop an advising manual that will benefit faculty and students. This manual will ensure that her wisdom on advising is captured and shared with others for many years to come. We will all miss her dedication to Nebraska Wesleyan and to our students.”