Economics department selects new tenure-track professor

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The economics department hired Jesse Mora as a tenure-track professor following a comprehensive search and selection process in late January. Mora, currently a doctoral student of economics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, will start at Occidental in the fall.

“Jesse was far and away our first choice out of over 200 applicants, so we’re delighted that he accepted our offer and will be coming to Oxy,” Economics Department Chair Woody Studenmund said via email. “The students who met Jesse responded to him quite positively, and I’m confident that he’ll be a real success here.”

A native southern Californian, Mora received his undergraduate degree from Claremont McKenna College. After graduating, he taught English in Mozambique with the Peace Corps and went on to earn his Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Mora has been a teaching assistant at UC Santa Cruz since 2011 and taught a summer course on intermediate macroeconomics there in 2014.

In line with his focus on international trade and economics, Mora has worked at the Inter-American Development Bank and the United States International Trade Commission. Additionally, he conducted extensive research on the export market of Columbian firms.

Mora listed the socioeconomic, racial and religious diversity of students and faculty as one of the most enticing features that drew him to Occidental.

He applied for the position in November and was interviewed by representatives from Occidental in early January at an economics conference in Boston. He was one of three candidates who were flown to campus later that month. The process culminated with a decision made by the economics department based on the input of faculty members as well as a student search committee comprised of economics majors.

The members of the student search committee were required to attend lecture-style presentations from each candidate and join one candidate for lunch, according to search committee member Will Huang (junior). Candidates were rated by criteria such as audibility and the level of student engagement during each lecture.

“I think it’s good to have student input,” Huang said. “I know that [the economics department] does take our input pretty seriously, but I also know that we often reach the same conclusion.”

Mora left a favorable impression on Jessica May (junior), another member of the search committee. She cited his personable nature and understanding of students’ intuition as what set him apart from the other candidates.

“He had a good grasp not just on his knowledge, but on how to interact with students,” May said. “He knew how to ask questions and get us to think critically instead of us just sort of waiting for him to tell us what the answer was.”

According to Studenmund, the students and faculty are pleased with the decision and are eagerly awaiting Professor Mora’s arrival in the fall.