2017-07-13 / News

East Shore professor earns tenure


The Malloy family, Maeve, 13, Brenna, 9, Liam, Gina and Fenella, 5, on the front steps of their house Tuesday on East Shore Road. 
PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN The Malloy family, Maeve, 13, Brenna, 9, Liam, Gina and Fenella, 5, on the front steps of their house Tuesday on East Shore Road. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN A month after a handful of his neighbors donned their caps and gowns at the University of Rhode Island, a Jamestown man received good news from the college.

Liam Malloy was among 15 Rhody assistants to be promoted to associate professor with tenure. The economics professor said he first heard about the promotion in April, but it wasn’t official until June 22, when the state’s board for higher education approved the nomination. Malloy, of East Shore Road, said his elevated standing will give him more freedom in the classroom.

“I’m delighted,” he said. “It might allow me to focus on longer-term projects.”

Assistant professors are promoted to associate through a yearly evaluation in three areas. The first is teaching skills, such as how students respond to Malloy’s instruction. The second is the body of research or what the professor published while teaching at the university. The third is service to the school, like advising students, sitting on committees and making curriculum changes.

If that evaluation is positive, a vote by department peers is the next step. If they support the promotion, recommendations from the dean and the department chair are required before final approval by the president and provost. Finally, the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education approves the nomination.

At four-year colleges, it takes about seven years from their hiring for professors to be tenured.

A native of Cambridge, Mass., Malloy has been teaching in Kingston since 2010, joining the faculty after receiving his doctorate in economics from the University of Maryland at College Park. His primary course at URI is principles of macroeconomics, a required course for economics majors.

“Macroeconomics is about the three main pieces of the economy: GDP growth, unemployment and inflation,” he said.

Specifically, Malloy teaches his students the relation between those subjects and the government’s role in stabilizing the system as a whole. For example, his course includes a unit on what a government should do during a recession, and how those choices can affect the growth of the economy.

“It’s very policy related,” he said, “but it’s very focused on the data.”

Macroeconomics differs from the similar field of microeconomics, which studies individuals and companies as opposed to nations or governments.

In addition to that course, Malloy teaches advanced classes and electives related to the field, such as intermediate macroeconomics and behavioral economics.

Outside of classroom economics, Malloy is active with the university. Among his ventures, he co-organized the annual 2016 Honors Colloquium, which was titled “Inequality and the American Dream.” It featured lectures from guest speakers on homelessness and immigration. Malloy also taught an honors class on the colloquium. It was just a one-time course, but Malloy said it was fun to teach.

“It was really interesting because we taught it during the presidential election,” he said. “There was a lot of tension around those issues.”

Malloy has spent most of his adult life studying the same economic issues that he now teaches. Before moving to Maryland to complete his Ph.D., he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Columbia University in 1998. He earned his master’s degree in the same field from Tufts University in 2005.

“I’ve been interested in how people earn their living and the role that policy plays in who gets what,” he said. “There’s always sort of a tug between political science and economics, but whenever I was making a decision between the two, (economics) always seemed like the most important outcome.”

The economy also played a part in Malloy’s decision to settle in Jamestown with his family. He and his wife, Gina, have three daughters, Maeve, 13, Brenna, 9, and Fenella, 5. The district’s high-performing schools and a relatively favorable housing market were the top attractions, he said. While the two younger girls are schooled in town, Maeve is a 2017 graduate of Lawn School who will attend Narragansett High School in the fall.

Another factor was the close-knit community. “We’ve gotten to know our girls’ pre-school teachers who live here and we’ve gotten the opportunity to coach soccer and softball,” he said. “We’ve also enjoyed the influx of military families each year, even though it’s a little hard when they leave.”

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