History of Economics Department

Northern Michigan University’s Economics Department offers courses for economics majors and minors, as well as courses supporting other majors, general electives and liberal studies.

The first economics class was offered at Northern in the fall of 1918 and was taught by John E. Lautner. He also taught languages, economics and sociology. Until 1963, economics was a subject taught in the history or social science departments.

In 1963, economics and sociology became a combined department. Three years later, the Economics Department was created. Three economics alumni became the departments instructors: Arnie Aho, Neil Carlson and Tom Holmstrom. All three remained in the department until their retirements following the 1996-97 academic year.

Today, the department helps oversee Northern’s Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship. The center offers significant outreach efforts and opportunities to the Upper Peninsula community, especially its K-12 schools.

Department chairs or heads: Jean Pearman, 1963-64; Kenneth Parkhurst, 1964-65; Neil Carlson, 1965-66; Phillipo May, 1966-70; Howard Swaine, 1970-97; David Prychitko, 1997-2003; Russ Magnaghi, 2003-06; Robert Quinn, 2006-present.

Primary Source: A Sense of Time: The Encyclopedia of Northern Michigan University, Dr. Russell Magnaghi.