Rob Clifford ‘06
Professors Patrick Dolenc and Marie Duggan drew Rob Clifford into Economics.
“They were both instrumental in terms of when I took their classes they seemed more engaged in the topic matter than any of the other introduction classes I took on any other subject,” he says from his office of the Federal Bank of Boston where he currently works.
In addition to their collective knowledge and passion for the subject matter, Clifford says he also liked how much time was spent dealing with what he calls real world topics.
“In the intro course, they were a lot of the time trying to connect what we were studying with current situations whether that was reading newspaper articles on Micro or Macro economic situation, to try and make sure we were understanding the topic and seeing the real world application,” he says. “And they really just, I think, brought the best of combining academic rigor with real world experience to kind of make it more of an applied major than I saw in any other field at that time.”
It was that combination that really inspired him to go beyond just intro micro and macro to take more advanced courses, he says.
“And the more I took the courses, the more I enjoyed the subject the more I wanted to proceed with it,” he says. In his current position with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, which is one of the regional banks of the federal reserve system, he works in a group called the New England Public Policy Center. The NPPC is a research group that focusses on policy issues relevant to the New England States and in particular labor markets and demographics analysis and state and local public finance.
“So we basically conduct research on issues that we identify as being relevant to the region, but where there isn’t publically available information or good research available on the topic,” he says. “We provide that kind of analysis to provide objective information so that legislators, policy makers and business leaders in the state can make the best decision based on objective analysis and data.” He really enjoys the work he says and finds himself reflecting on the lessons he learned in the Economics Department at Keene State.
“This is economic research,” he says. “So really what I did at Keene State gave me the foundation in economics, and in graduate school, I learned some more of the applied economics that you would use in the economics field and now I apply them day to day in my job.”
He said classes such as history of environmental thought, econometrics, environmental economics, the focus was on going through a textbook or a topic area, learning the standard economic models, but then going through different ideas to look at outside thinking related to economics as well. “Heterodox type of economics,” he says. “Different schools of thought outside of your kind of classical and Keynsian perspective on economics.
“Really I think it gave a more well-rounded perspective on economics as a whole. When I realized what I had learned at Keene was in graduate school, I realized with some of my peers (graduate school) was sometimes their first exposure to some of the different types of thought in the economics field. That’s when I realized that Keene had given me really a broader education in the economics field than I think the conventional view.”
Clifford went on to get his Master’s in 2007 from the Peter T. Paul School of Business, formerly the Whittemore School of Business, at the University of New Hampshire. He’s been working at the Federal Reserve ever since.