posted July 19, 2006

Economist Victor Claar Receives Fulbright Award

Dr. Victor Claar, associate professor of economics at Hope College, will spend a year teaching and conducting research in Armenia through an award from the Fulbright Scholar Program.

It is the third time in three years that a member of the Hope faculty has received one of the awards. In 2004, Dr. William Cohen, professor emeritus of history, and Dr. David Klooster, professor of English, received Fulbright awards to teach in Japan and Austria respectively.

Claar will teach at the American University of Armenia in the capital city of Yerevan. The university, founded approximately 10 years ago, offers only graduate-level courses, taught in English. Claar will be teaching MBA students in the business school and economics courses in the political science program from late August through early May.

His research will focus on the nation's shift from communism under the former Soviet system. "One of the reasons I wanted a former Soviet republic was to study economic transition a little bit," he said.

Claar also anticipates lecturing at other universities while in Armenia. In addition, during a break between quarters he is planning to attend a conference in Turkey in December to which he and Hope colleague Dr. Robin Klay will be submitting a paper on the work of aid-giving non-governmental agencies in Mexico.

For more than 50 years, the Fulbright Scholar program has sponsored the exchange of students and scholars between the United States and many other countries around the world. The U.S. government's flagship academic exchange effort, Fulbright annually sends 800 U.S. scholars to academic institutions abroad, and brings 800 foreign scholars to the United States. The goal of the program is to promote "mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries of the world."

Armenia is located about midway between the Black and Caspian seas and bordered by Iran, Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. The country is a predominantly Christian nation and has approximately three million inhabitants, 1.3 million of whom live in Yerevan, which was founded in 782 B.C.

Claar has taught at Hope since 2000. Recently, working with 2006 Hope graduate Amy Schuster, he developed the Lakeshore Economic Index that measures West Michigan's economic health based on nine categories: electricity usage, water usage, average residential real estate prices, average number of days a home is on the market, new car sales, new home construction, the prime lending rate, the unemployment rate and hotel occupancy. His areas of research also include macroeconomic implications of behavioral economics, time series econometrics and forgiveness.

He has presented his research at several conferences, including the Southern Economic Association and the International Atlantic Economic Society. His research has appeared in journals such as "Applied Economics" and "Public Finance Review," and he has served as a referee for the "Journal of Money, Credit and Banking," the "Journal of Public Economics" and the "Review of Political Economy." He and Klay have a book forthcoming from IVP Academic in 2007. He also serves as an adjunct scholar at the Mackinaw Center for Public Policy in Midland.

Claar holds a B.A. in business administration from Houghton College in New York, where he also completed a major in mathematics. He earned his master's and doctorate in economics from West Virginia University.