January 10, 2017

"Founding Mother" of St. Kate's economics department, Nasrin Jewell, to be honored

A professor at St. Kate’s since 1981, Nasrin Jewell was instrumental in forming the University's economics department. As she prepares to retire this spring, colleagues and family plan a special way to honor her legacy through a tribute gift.

A tribute gift honors a special person by contributing money to St. Kate’s in her/his name. Often, these gifts fund scholarships.

Kristine West, assistant professor of economics, talks about her colleague’s work at St. Kate’s and why she kick-started the tribute gift campaign.


Q: What contributions has Professor Jewell made to the economics department, and why did you want to honor her with a tribute gift?


A: Nasrin is the reason we have an economics department at St. Kate’s. When she was hired here, she was hired in the business department — an economics department didn’t exist. She took it upon herself to create an economics program separate from business, which is really important in my mind. In addition, Nasrin was instrumental in launching the master of arts in organizational leadership (MAOL) program at St. Kate’s. She’s been a major force in developing the core curriculum as well, and has taught Global Search for Justice courses for many years.

The fact that Nasrin is retiring this year necessitated some kind of an honor. Our department is really growing, and by raising money for scholarships, we will be better able to support students studying economics.

When I told Nasrin about this, she was thrilled. She told me that she’s both excited and sad to retire because there are so many exciting things going on in our department, and she wants to continue being a part of that. This gift will allow her to remain a part of the work we’re doing.

Q: Who has been involved in building this tribute gift?


A: Two of my colleagues — department chair Deep Shikha and professor Caroline Krafft — and I seeded the fund with our own donations. Nasrin’s husband, Brian, has also made a contribution on behalf of the family to honor her time at St. Kate’s.

At this time, we have enough money for a viable non-endowed scholarship award, but we know it could grow. We’re hoping to raise enough money to fully endow a scholarship, which would take $50,000. I have been spearheading this effort, and want to reach out to past students who were taught by Nasrin. I have a real sense that her students have a strong connection to her. We have alumnae stopping by our offices that ask for her on a regular basis. People who took classes with her 30 years ago remember her fondly.

I’ve been exploring ways to find all those people who have been impacted by Nasrin’s work at St. Kate’s to make them aware of this way to honor her legacy. Her contributions in our department are so in line with the mission and values of St. Kate’s, and she radiates love for this place. I believe there are people who will feel compelled to honor her.


Q: What will this tribute gift mean to the economics department?


A: We want to consult with Nasrin to see how she thinks the award would honor her legacy the best. Our idea is to provide financial support to undergraduate level students who want to expand their study in economics. We aren’t sure at what point in a student’s career they would be eligible for an award, but we would certainly be supporting students with financial need.

Nasrin is well known for applying economics principles to social issues. Her passion is being at the intersection of economics and social justice. I would expect that some element of the scholarship would support a student interested in using economics for public good.

She is also very committed to making sure our students have a global awareness. Nasrin’s scholarly work is in women’s rights within the labor market specifically in the Middle East and North Africa. She makes sure our students aren’t U.S.-centric but have an international awareness in their economic analysis. This aspect of her work should also be reflected in how the award is used.

To learn more about tribute gifts or to contribute toward the Nasrin Jewell Scholarship Fund, please visit our online giving page.