By: Michael Kofoed
During my third year of graduate school, I had the opportunity to take an extra field in health economics. I was intrigued and excited by the subject, but nervous about taking on more coursework when I needed to start writing my dissertation. Little did I know that by taking that extra class, I would also gain a great mentor and friend: David Bradford. Even though my plan was to write my dissertation on the economics of higher education, David took a personal interest in me and my career.
The first thing you notice about David is his excitement and passion for teaching and research. Many professors feel that these two roles are substitutes. David showed us how that they are complements. His love of the field of health economics was infections, but what is more exciting is how he involves his graduate students (or anyone that wants) in the research process. They become true partners and their contribution is valued. It is also common to see David introducing a student co-author to other luminaries in the field at conferences or professional gatherings. For David, these new scholars are his greatest research output.
One struggle in economics is the hierarchal natural of Ph.D. granting institutions and job placement. I expressed my worries and frustrations about the impending job market to David once in his office. He pointed at his Mississippi State and LSU degrees and told me to forget about prestige and just get to work. He said that any University of Georgia graduate with good ideas and perseverance could outwork those fancy Ph.Ds anytime. It was up to me to do my best and let the work speak for itself. I left his office feeling like I could take on the world. Whenever I have a cadet or junior officer come by my office with a research idea and desire to work hard, I think of inspiring example of David Bradford and other amazing UGA faculty and do my best to pay it forward. David is a fantastic example that the future professionals and researchers we develop is our greatest contribution to the field.
Michael Kofoed is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the United States Military Academy.