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Supply, demand and a bit of humor

Published: June 24 2008

David Denslow

Professor of Economics
Warrington College of Business

University of Florida economics professor David Denslow, whose popular introductory course informs and entertains thousands of students each year, runs into graduates wherever he goes; visiting the Legislature, standing in line at a restaurant in Atlanta — even ordering room service while attending an out-of-town conference.

“I was in a hotel in Tampa once to give a talk and when I ordered breakfast, a guy came in with a tray, took one look at me, said ‘Dr. Denslow?’ and then dropped the tray,” he said with a chuckle.

Denslow, who came to UF in 1970, now finds the children of former students in his principles of macroeconomics course. Sometimes mom or dad will be curious enough to listen to the lectures online, prompting a family discussion about the professor’s comments via phone or e-mail, he said.

“Parents who have had some business experience will often say ‘Well, he’s not really right on that, but I think he’s right on this,’” Denslow said. “I enjoy having these children of former students and sometimes I’ll remember the former students, sometimes not. But nonetheless, it’s fun to hear that they remain interested in the subject of economics.”

Those parents may remember Denslow interspersing jokes and pranks in his explanations of the laws of supply and demand. At one point during the Carter-Ford presidential race, Denslow drove an ice cream cone into his forehead to imitate Gerald Ford.

Today, Denslow relies less on comedy and more on current issues to illustrate his finer points.

On a global scale, his lectures explore the effects of the rapid transformation of the enormous Chinese and Indian economies on the United States and the implications of bringing billions more people into the world market economy.

The international scene is nothing new to Denslow. He consulted for the World Bank on income distribution in Brazil. He also did consulting work for the Ford Foundation on two projects: providing information on labor markets in northeastern Brazil and setting up a graduate program in economics at a city in that area of the country.

Closer to home, Denslow is examining what factors determine why wages vary in different U.S. cities.

Retirement is not in the near future for Denslow, who plans to continue his work in the classroom.

“When I get the first grandchild of a student,” he said, “then I’ll know it’s time to quit.”

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