Economics/Business Professor C. Barry Pfitzner
-story by Kaitlyn Sewell '15
C. Barry Pfitzner, Randolph-Macon College professor of
economics and business, is spending the summer on campus conducting research
for several papers, one on performance in the U.S. PGA tour, another on NASCAR,
and still another on the relationships between GDP growth, unemployment rates, and
measures of financial stress.
Research and Collaboration
The PGA paper seeks to measure statistically the effects of golf skills on success
on the PGA tour. Skills such as driving distance, driving accuracy, putting, and
other skills measured and published by the PGA tour can be shown to be important
determinants of the success of individual players. James Robinson ’14
is a co-author of the paper. The NASCAR paper is a similar investigation and was
written with Thornton Glazebrook ’13.
“Just to make it clear that not all of my work is on sports, the third paper is
a trivariate vector auto-regression project that seeks to measure interactions between
economic growth, unemployment rates, and new measures of stress in the financial
systems of individual macro-economies,” says Pfitzner. “That paper is based on some
work Professor Steve Lang (economics/business) and I did recently that was updated
and applied to the UK by
David Cartmill, an exchange student from Northern Ireland who was also in
my econometrics class last semester.”
A Close-knit Campus
Pfitzner, who is enjoying his 31st year teaching at R-MC, graduated from Bridgewater
College with a bachelor’s degree, received his master’s degree at Old Dominion University,
and earned his Ph.D. at Catholic University of America. He was teaching at a small
community college when he was offered three jobs at Virginia colleges. He says that,
out of all three, R-MC was most appealing. He specifically liked R-MC’s close-knit
During his years at R-MC, Pfitzner has taught numerous classes, including Principles
and Intermediate Microeconomics, Advanced Statistics, Econometrics, and Time Series
“I always allow students to design their own research topics,” he says.” “It’s interesting
to see where they go with them.” In one case, he and a student in his Econometrics
course collaborated on a paper that considered the age at which males and females
first marry across countries.
FYE and SURF
He has collaborated with other professors in teaching two
First-Year Experience (FYE) courses: Measuring Athletic Performance (with
Biology Professor Emerita Elsa Falls) and Crossing Frontiers: Culture and International
Economic Issues in Latin America (with Spanish Professor Andrea Hamos). Pfitzner
has also mentored SURF (Schapiro Undergraduate
Research Fellowship) students, some of whose papers were presented at academic conferences.
Service and Awards
Pfitzner has served as chair of the Economics and Business Department and president
of the Virginia Association of Economics, and he is the current editor of the Virginia
Economic Journal. He also holds the Edward W. Seese endowed chair in economics
at R-MC. The Edward W. Seese Professorship in Business and Economics was established
in memory of Edward W. Seese, a distinguished businessman who was a member of the
Class of 1929.
Pfitzner was awarded the Thomas Branch Award for Excellence in Teaching (1987),
the Scholar of the Year award in Economics from the Virginia Social Sciences Association
(1989), and the Distinguished Fellow for Service to the Virginia Association of
Economics (2001). He was also inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, an honors society.
Yellow Jacket Pride
In addition to teaching, Pfitzner helps coach the
R-MC women’s golf team, which he considers “more of a hobby than a job.”
He plays golf in his spare time and has a strong interest in sports.
Pfitzner describes his time on campus with faculty and students as valuable, enjoyable
and rewarding. His extensive experience at R-MC has given him the opportunity to
interact with many students, and to watch them succeed. He enjoys the classroom
experience as well as working with his colleagues on research.
“Sometimes I tell people I have the best job in the world,” he says. “It’s never
a chore to go to work.”