Faculty Spotlight: Mitch Fisher
Although Mitch Fisher always had teaching and academics in the back of his mind, he decided to enter the business world first.
As an undergraduate student in accounting at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, Fisher took several economics courses as part of the required curriculum. But it wasn't until after he earned his bachelor's degree and worked for two years at a public accounting firm in Chicago that his focus began to shift. That's when he quit his job and began his MBA at the University of Michigan.
"I specialized in Economics and Public Policy and also took part in a summer internship program in Washington, D.C., which entailed taking economics and public policy courses, as well as working as an intern for the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration," he said. "It was the public policy side of economics and related social issues, such as poverty and inequality, that really grabbed my attention."
Fisher then worked for three years at Sears’ corporate headquarters as an internal auditor and financial analyst but left to earn his master's degree in economics at UIUC. While there he was a teaching assistant for the introductory economics courses.
"My role model as a teacher was Fred Gottheil. He has been teaching economics at the University of Illinois for 30-plus years and still remains passionate about economics and teaching today," he said. "Professor Gottheil always told stories in his lectures, trying to connect with students and give them real-world examples of how economics plays a role in their everyday lives.
"I found that I really loved teaching in general, and that I really loved teaching economics specifically. After many years, I knew I had found something I was really passionate about. I also knew that I wanted to teach at the community college level because the focus is on teaching and on enhancing student learning, as opposed to a four-year research institution, where there is a little bit of teaching but a lot of pressure to publish and do research."
Fisher was hired full-time at College of DuPage in 2002. While he recognizes that many students take economics as a requirement or prerequisite, he wants them to gain a basic understanding of how economics is part of their everyday lives.
"I want them to be better informed and well-educated citizens," he said. "While there is specific terminology, economic models and formulas that every economics student must master, a much more important learning objective is that students apply the information they have learned to real issues and apply critical thinking skills.
"I try to get them to think about global issues such as hunger, poverty, inequality and economic development by bringing in articles and talking about them in the classroom. I encourage them to think about these important social issues that go beyond what is in the traditional economics textbook. I hope that long after the course is over, they will be watching the news or pick up the paper and think 'Hey, I learned about this in Mitch’s econ class!' "
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