|Mike Veseth is interviewed with Wine Press Northwest.
"I was the first member of my family to be able to attend college," wrote 2010 Washington state winner Mike Veseth in his personal statement. "The process transformed me, and it was mainly because of the generous interventions of many people: teachers, mentors, friends."
Because of the help he had along the way, Mike Veseth sees his role as a professor in terms of opening doors and creating opportunities for students to learn and grow—and ultimately open doors for themselves.
At the same time, Mike tries to keep in mind the struggles students have—by juggling balls. "Professors end up teaching what thing they're best at in the world. Getting myself to do something like juggling is a way to remember what it's like to struggle with something you're not good at," he told the Takoma Weekly.
To help open doors for students, Mike will go so far as to create new opportunities—and entirely new departments—at his institution, the University of Puget Sound. He created the special interdisciplinary major program for students to design their own academic programs and got several faculty members to join him in creating the innovative international political economy program in the 1990s.
One faculty member from that program wrote, "As he was leading the way to develop the program by creatively harnessing existing faculty resources on campus, he quickly recognized that the IPE textbooks in the market were not tailored for undergraduate teaching ... [so] Michael quickly began to work on another front: to bring us together to write an undergraduate-oriented IPE textbook. (By the way, the book went on to become a huge hit as even various graduate programs around the country and abroad adopted it.)"
"Each class is different," Mike said in a Liberal Education Reporter article. "I think about it like a winemaker: if you produce 30 vintages, the basics are all the same, but the factors will always be different ... the weather, the vineyard and the cellar. Fortunately, with teaching, I can draw upon my years of experience which give me a greater appreciation and perspective." The article described how his classes use accessible subjects such as wine, soccer and music to help students learn about economic theory and global topics such as racism, nationalism and marketing.
"To me, [Veseth's classes] defined what a college experience should be: 15 young adults grappling with the meaning and relevance of Adam Smith, quoting underlined texts of Ricardo, List, Hamilton and Marx at each other like an aging arsenal; bringing in current events as supporting evidence; and having a patient avuncular referee to keep us civil and on track," wrote a former student.
Another former student wrote, "Even now, 16 years since graduating from [the University of Puget Sound], Professor Veseth continues to advance my career ... Ever vigilant of his students, past and present, [he] had heard that I wrote a play called remains about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and he invited me to return to UPS for a reading of the script in 2007. It was an opportunity to come full circle to the place where I first found my voice, talking about the same topic, instigated by the person: Professor Mike Veseth."
"I'm proud of the opportunities we have created through the IPE program and other initiatives," Mike wrote in his personal statement, "but honestly I take the greatest pleasure in the work that individual students hav edone and the strong values they have developed in the process."
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