Professor Chris Fawson recently spoke at the Center for Growth and Opportunity’s weekly student fellow meeting. Fawson is a professor in the Department of Economics and the former Senior Associate dean at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University.
Culture and opportunity help frame a life — but choice defines a life.
Throughout his lecture, Fawson displayed a single slide with the quote, “Culture and opportunity help frame a life — but choice defines a life.”
Fawson grew up in Weber County, and was sixth of twelve kids. Soon after his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Taiwan, he planned to leverage his Chinese skills by being a corporate lawyer. Upon completing his undergraduate degree in Economics, a big recession hit, which urged Fawsom to pivot his career path and pursue a PhD in Economics at Texas A&M.
Following the completion of his dissertation, Fawson was hired on at Texas A&M as an associate professor with a Business stats emphasis. After two years, he took his dream job at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he taught economics and started his own consulting firm. The firm was very successful, and he realized he came to a crossroads in his career where he needed to choose between consultant work, or being an academic economist.
When the opportunity came to work for Utah State University, Fawson left his consulting firm and moved his family back to Utah. Fawson said he felt it was “an opportunity to immerse myself in a traditional academic job of teaching and research.”
Fawson shared with the fellows his unique opportunity to help engineers with development work in Bangladesh. “So I volunteered,” Fawson said. “If they’re willing to take me, I’m willing to put myself out there.” Later on in his career, he also had the opportunity to travel to Yemen, just a month before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Through his remarks, Fawson encouraged the fellows to pursue unique and interesting opportunities.
“I’m passionate about helping students understand what they’re capable of,” he said. “We don’t really see what we’re capable of doing. Oftentimes, others see more. Great mentors help unlock those opportunities and experiences that reveal something about ourselves.”
During his time at Utah State University, Fawson has served as the Director of Utah State University Center for Rural Economic Development, Director of International Programs, Vice Provost for Academic and International Affairs, Department Head of Economics, and Senior Associate Dean for the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. As Associate Dean, Fawson helped develop the Huntsman Scholars program, Go Global, the Business Design Program in Switzerland, and the Chinese Degree Program in Economics.
When asked what his current focus is right now, Fawson proclaimed himself a dabbler. “Anything you’re interested in, I’m interested in,” he said. Fawson encourages all students to come visit with him if they have research ideas.
“Be bold. Go out and do crazy things.”