Goodnight econ fans: Jan Dauve retires

Jan Dauve never wanted to be a teacher. In fact, the current teaching professor, director of undergraduate studies and adviser chair in the agricultural and applied economics department really just wanted to fish.

Originally, he chose the University of Missouri, because he planned to pursue a bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife, and it was one of the only programs in the state at the time. He is a self-proclaimed fishing addict.

“And then, life is a series of unanticipated events,” Dauve said.

His college career wasn’t always smooth sailing. After making Mizzou’s junior varsity basketball team, Dauve saw his GPA drop by more than a point. So at the beginning of his junior year, he quit school and spent a semester juggling two jobs – one working in a hotel in downtown St. Louis and the other as a night auditor at a hotel in Columbia. One required 40 hours a week and one required 56 hours a week. He said he learned how to sleepwalk during that time.

“Doing the job search, and seeing how much I was being paid … I looked around and said ‘I can do better than this,’ and went back to school,” Dauve said. “From then on I did dramatically better academically. It was kind of a turning point.”

Back at Mizzou, he wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do. He took his first required economics classes, and then he changed his major.

“I really thought economists were evil at that point – greedy S.O.B.s,” Dauve said. “Well, then I figured out what economics was really about in class, and I thought, ‘Wow, this stuff makes sense. I was all wrong.’”

Even then though, teaching never seemed like part of his plan. A friend, and PhD candidate in the program, roped him into being Professor Ken Bogg’s teaching assistant for his introductory micro and macroeconomics classes. And Dauve got his first taste of teaching.

“I was so nervous the first time in the classroom, I was pitted out to my belt,” Dauve said. “When I first went to write up at the chalkboard I pushed so hard the chalk was crumbling. A year later I could still see the divot I had made in it on my first day. I was just petrified.”

After some time at Mizzou, he taught classes at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo., and then moved on to Colorado State University for his PhD. He also taught at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Mo., for three years, before coming back to Mizzou.

Dauve said he loves to see the light come on in a student’s eyes. He tinkered with his system and was never afraid to try new things. He was among the first to use clickers and online quizzes on campus. His enthusiasm for the subject – and for life – showed in his classrooms. He’s taught a multitude of ag econ and ag buisness courses. He greeted each lecture hall, even at 8 a.m., with a hearty, “Good moooorning econ fans!” He even wrote song lyrics on the top of each test.

“One day in class I was selling bottles of water in class, and a guy bid for it,” Dauve said. “So I walked five rows deep on the desktops to give him his bottle. And stood there on the desk to give the next part of the lecture. From there I had unique perspective, and, well, I had everyone’s attention.”

His relationship with the students sets him apart from other educators and advisers, noted Fabio Chaddad, an assistant professor in the agricultural and applied economics department.

“Students like being around him,” Chaddad said. “They feel Jan cares about them and their career, and this makes a big difference.”

Teaching and advising suited him. Although a large lecture hall would intimidate some, Joe Parcell, department chair and professor in the agricultural and applied economics department, said Dauve didn’t let it faze him. He was on the cutting edge of innovative teaching and learning, he said. But it was his connection to the students, that most impressed Parcell.

“Dr. Dauve believes in the potential in every student that walks through his door or into his classroom,” Parcell said. “Jan is viewed across campus, CAFNR and within the department as a go-to-person for teaching and advising advice.”

Though he switched from fisheries to agricultural economics, he still had a fisherman’s heart. He proposed to his wife in a little blue fishing boat, and being careful not to spill the plastic cups of wine, got down on one knee. She said yes. They’ve been married 25 years.

“She always liked to walk … when we met in Colorado we would hike into the mountains to camp overnight,” Dauve said.  “And when we moved to Missouri we did float trips on the Missouri River. But those slowly but surely became impossible.”

He and his wife’s plans, and what he feels is a reduced focus on students at the university, made him begin thinking about retirement. This will be Dauve’s final semester.

“I didn’t want to leave with a bad taste in my mouth,” he said. “And if I don’t take walks with my wife now, when will I?”

Chaddad said that when Dauve leaves, the department will lose a reference point, a leader, the glue and the go-to-guy of the undergraduate programs.

“Jan is a great adviser, teacher and colleague, but it was these intangible characteristics that makes him special and will be missed,” Chaddad said.

Parcell said the department will be different after Dauve’s departure and that the change is already taking place.

“In true Jan Dauve spirit, he ensured a transition period for sharing his knowledge to others,” Parcell said. “I would like to feel the department is prepared for after Jan, but that feeling is a wishful feeling. It’s impossible to replace an institution that so many persons relied on for advice.”

Maria Kalaitzandonakes

About the Author Maria

I’m a CoMo native with a mile-long last name. I’m a sucker for wool socks, classic Coca Cola and afternoon naps. If I had a pet, I’d dub it Pigwidgeon, or maybe Alastor. I’ve stood right in between Asia and Europe, eaten my weight in lamb meat and walked the Great Wall. I’m fluent in Greek and a little wobbly in Spanish. I’ve broken my arm and lost five pairs of glasses. And I say both with an L, as in boLth, like a true Missourian. Before I became a tiger, I was a bruin, at Columbia’s very own Rock Bridge High School. There I got my start in agriculture and journalism. I ran the student newspaper and magazine, learning that I had a love for storytelling. CAFNR is where I call home right now, as an Agricultural Economics and Science and Agricultural Journalism double-major student. Someday I may use this degree for a career in agricultural public policy or foreign agricultural services. But for now, I’m just a freshman with some pretty blurry pipe dreams.