Over the course of 12 years, Dirk Mateer has taught more than 25,000 students at Penn State — but now he’s tasked to continue his lectures in warmer weather.
Mateer announced that he will be making the move to the University of Kentucky as a senior lecturer in the department of economics, citing warmer climate and the fact that the department specializes in producing graduate students who go on to teach in college.
At Penn State, Mateer has also served as a senior lecturer in the department of economics.
He said via email that he loved teaching large lecture courses at Penn State and believes that “ ‘large’ classes, when taught well, provide an equal, if not better, learning environment than ‘small’ classes.”
Associate Head of the Department of Economics Barry Ickes said Mateer taught a lot of undergraduates and has been a good lecturer. He has been popular and a good director of undergraduate studies, he added.
“I’m sad he’s leaving, but he’s making a choice that is good for him,” Ickes said.
Andrew Capaci (senior-economics) said he took Mateer’s Introduction to Microeconomics in the spring of 2010. He said what distinguished Mateer was his ability to make everything his students learned applicable to real life.
Dave DeFelice, another student who took Mateer’s class, also said Mateer integrated real-life examples in class through a number of ways, such as games, songs he played before class or clips he showed from movies. He added that few professors have done this in a comparable manner.
Having really enjoyed Mateer’s class, DeFelice (senior-science) said his ability to remember “that Dirk Mateer was my professor says a lot,” after taking his class years ago.
DeFelice said Mateer was approachable and popular among the students. Disappointed when he found the lecturer was leaving, he said he wishes more Penn State students could take his classes, which were made accessible and interesting, especially to non-majors.
A student and teaching assistant of Mateer’s, Fenny Lai (junior-arts)said she took his class as a freshman in fall 2010. She said Mateer was engaging.
“Dirk is one of my favorite professors in economics,” noting that he is easy-going and approachable. “We are all going to miss him,” she said.
Mateer said Penn State is a “special place,” and State College is a “wonderful community,” adding that he will miss the students “who are always engaged [and his] colleagues who do amazing research.”
He said his most vivid memories from ECON 102 (Introduction to Microeconomics) include a “food eating contest with Ho-Hos, creating a giant trading pit with 700 students, or throwing paper airplanes to demonstrate how a good economic model should work.”
“The course was always fun to teach, and I looked forward to teaching the course no matter how many times I had done it before,” he said. “All told in 12 years I taught more than 25,000 students, so I hope my message made a difference in the lives of many current and former students.”