Section: Features

Third time’s the charm for Richard Trethewey

Third time’s the charm for Richard Trethewey

by Manjul Bhusal-Sharma

In Josh Radnor’s film Liberal Arts, Professor Peter Hoberg, played by Richard Jenkins, asks to return to teaching at the Kenyonesque college he retired from, realizing how much he missed professorship and abhorring the boredom of retirement. In the film, the professor is denied the opportunity to return.
Unlike the fictional Hoberg, Professor Emeritus of Economics Richard Trethewey has had the luxury of coming back to Kenyon not just once after retirement, but twice.
Trethewey, born in 1943, started teaching at Kenyon in the fall of 1969, retired in 2007, was called back to teach in 2012, retired again and was called back for a second time in 2014.
Trethewey finds it stimulating to be able to teach again, especially because his retirement coincided with the financial meltdown. As an economist, he looks at this as an opportunity to sort out his ideas about the crash.
Trethewey is teaching three courses this semester, with two sections of Principles of Macroeconomics and the Senior Seminar in Public Policy.
Though the courses have the same titles as they did back in the 1960s, Trethewey’s audience has changed drastically.
“I think that there is certainly a stronger interest among the students [today] about what is going on in the world,” Trethewey said.
Trethewey said that Kenyon felt much more isolated in the past, especially since there was no Internet or cable. Thus, students were difficult to track down outside the classroom.
Though the technological advances having increased exponentially at Kenyon since the late 1960s, Trethewey finds the old-fashioned ways to work just as well.
“My teaching methods are fairly traditional,” Trethewey said. “I use Internet only to communicate, not a lot in classrooms.”
Though Trethewey has maintained his teaching style over the years, he has left a legacy of original courses.
“I introduced several new courses to the offerings of the Department — American Economic History, Law and Economics, European Economic History, Marxist Economics and Russian Economic History,” Trethewey said.
Leland Holcomb ’14, who is one of Trethewey’s students this semester, said he appreciates his wisdom from years of teaching.
“He really has a strong familiarity with the readings,” Holcomb said.
Trethewey’s ongoing mix of work and retirement has allowed him to continue his love for teaching as well as to spend time with his family.
Since 1981, Trethewey’s family has lived in nearby Apple Valley. He has two sons who practice law in Seattle and Clevelan


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