Whether the subject is urban economic development or
education economics, Professor of Economics William Sander is fascinated by the
forces at work beneath the surface.
Why do some people choose to settle in big cities rather
than in the suburbs? What is the correlation between college major, earning
power and the place in which you reside? Why is Chicago’s population shrinking
at the same time that median household incomes and education levels in the city
are rising? Sander addresses these issues and more in his research, in the
classroom, and in his role as an economic consultant for the Federal Reserve Bank
Not surprisingly, Sander’s findings oftentimes have an
impact close to home. For example, his research on Chicago’s changing
demographics explore the waxing and waning fortunes of certain neighborhoods
and racial groups in the city, thereby potentially influencing people’s
thinking on such issues as housing, schooling and election of public officials.
Sander’s expertise has gained notice in both academic
literature and popular media. One of his co-authored studies, “Teachers
and Student Achievement in the Chicago Public High Schools,” which
estimates the importance of teachers on student mathematical achievement, has
been cited more than 1,000 times by other researchers, according to Google
Scholar. Meanwhile, this spring, when the maker of Oreos decided to move
production of the cookie from Chicago to Mexico, the Chicago
Sun-Times published a commentary by Sander in which he shed light on
the complex international trade policies that affect such business decisions.
Sander also reaches into the community through his teaching,
availing himself of the real-world classroom on DePaul’s Loop Campus doorstep
through several of his economics courses. He offers an upper-level economics
class on the Chicago economy as well as a freshman class on the subject in
which he takes students on field trips to the Chicago Board of Trade, the
world’s oldest futures and options exchange, the Federal Reserve Bank and
various corporate headquarters around the city.
Sander brings the world into his classroom as well, inviting
prominent members of the business community to speak to his students.
“In textbooks, you get a lot of theory, but research allows
me to bring real-world data and experience to bear with students, which makes
the concepts much more concrete.”