Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Federal Reserve, Interest Rates, and the National Debt by Dr. Robin Dhakal

Understanding effects of the Federal Reserve's interest rate decisions is essential for everyone since it affects every aspect of our lives. Whether you're an individual saver, a business owner, or just trying to make sense of economic news, the Fed's actions are bound to impact your wallet. But what exactly is this influence and why does it matter? And how does this affect our national debt issue?

Let’s start with the basics.

The Federal Reserve is arguably the most important aspect of the US economic system because of its role in monetary policy. By setting the benchmark for short-term interest rates, the Fed indirectly guides borrowing costs across the country. These rates affect various aspects of the economy- everything from the interest on your savings account to the cost of taking out a loan for a new home or a business venture. When the Fed decides to hike up rates, as Bankrate explains, borrowing becomes more expensive. This doesn't just mean higher monthly payments on new loans; it also impacts interest rates on existing variable-rate debt like credit cards and home equity lines of credit. Conversely, when the Fed lowers rates, it encourages spending and investment which heats up the economy— but at the risk of stoking inflation.

The Fed's influence extends beyond personal finance. According to Federal Reserve publications, its monetary policy decisions directly sway interest rates and indirectly affect stock prices, wealth, and even currency exchange rates. It's a balancing act of monumental proportions, aiming to foster a stable economy that grows without overheating. But this is a delicate balance. As Investopedia reports, changes in interest rates can have long-lasting impacts. When rates rise, consumers and businesses may pull back on spending due to higher financing costs, potentially slowing the economy. On the flip side, when rates fall, spending can surge, driving up prices and possibly leading to inflation.

Industries are affected differently with interest rate changes. Real estate, for example, is sensitive to these fluctuations. Higher rates can cool down the housing market, as mortgages become expensive and potential buyers shy away. Conversely, banks might see this as an opportunity, with increased interest rates leading to wider profit margins on loans. Manufacturing firms with heavy reliance on borrowing may face challenges, as the cost of financing equipment or facilities rises. But not all is bad; sectors like consumer staples or utilities, which are less sensitive to economic cycles, may fare better in an environment of climbing rates.

So, how does this affect the Federal government?

At its core, the Fed's decision to adjust interest rates affects how much it costs the government to borrow money. Just like individuals, the federal government takes out loans to fund various initiatives, from infrastructure projects to social programs. These loans come in the form of Treasury bonds, bills, and notes that investors purchase. The interest rate set by the Fed, often referred to as the federal funds rate, indirectly influences the yield on these securities. A higher federal funds rate generally leads to higher Treasury yields, which translates into increased borrowing costs for the government.

History has shown us that declining interest rates can be a boon for the government. Lower rates mean cheaper borrowing costs, allowing for the financing of deficits at a more manageable expense. For years, we've seen a general downtrend in interest rates, even near-zero levels during economic crises such as the 2008 financial collapse and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as the rates begin to rise, the scenario shifts. The recent trend, marked by the Federal Reserve's rate hikes, has seen an uptick in the cost of servicing the national debt. This means a larger portion of the government's budget must be allocated to paying interest, potentially constraining spending in other areas or leading to increased borrowing to cover these costs.

What about the national debt?

As interest rates climb, the cost of maintaining and adding to this debt grows. Each uptick in rates can mean billions of dollars in additional interest payments over time. This is no small matter when considering the scale of the U.S. national debt, which stands in the trillions of dollars. The interest payment on our national debt is close to $400 billion in 2023. This higher interest payments may lead to difficult budgetary choices, with potential cuts to services or the need for higher taxes to bridge the financial gap. It's a delicate balance.

In response to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fed implemented aggressive rate cuts to stimulate economic activity. The ultra-low interest rate environment resulted in increased government borrowing at historically low costs, allowing the federal government to finance its debt at favorable terms. However, as the economy began to recover and inflationary pressures increased, the Federal Reserve started gradually increasing interest rates. These post-COVID rate hikes were aimed at preserving price stability and preventing excessive inflation. As interest rates rose, the cost of borrowing for the federal government also increased, leading to a rise in future interest payments on the national debt.

What are the potential consequences of the future rate cuts?

The Fed's recent indication of potential interest rate cuts in 2024 raises questions regarding its impact on the national debt and the broader economy. While the exact effects are subject to numerous variables, we can explore potential implications based on economic principles and past experiences.

1)     If interest rates are cut, the federal government would benefit from lowered borrowing costs. This would alleviate the burden of interest payments on the national debt, freeing up resources for other priorities. However, it is crucial to note that this relief would be temporary, as future rate hikes, driven by inflationary pressures or economic growth, could again increase borrowing costs.

2)     A rate cut typically stimulates the economy by reducing borrowing costs for businesses and consumers. Lower interest rates incentivize borrowing and can boost investment, consumption, and overall economic activity. This stimulation could lead to increased tax revenues for the government, potentially improving its fiscal position and reducing the national debt over time.

3)     One potential consequence of rate cuts is an increase in inflation (again!) Despite the Fed's commitment to keeping inflation in check, a sustained period of low interest rates can potentially stimulate excessive borrowing and spending, fueling inflationary pressures. Inflation erodes the value of money, reducing the purchasing power of consumers and increasing the cost of living. This could indirectly impact the national debt by reducing the real value of outstanding debt obligations over time.

4)     U.S.'s fiscal and monetary policies has global implications. In a scenario where the Fed cuts interest rates while other central banks maintain or raise rates, it could lead to a depreciation of the U.S. dollar. A weaker dollar can increase demand for U.S. exports and make the national debt more manageable as it is denominated in U.S. dollars. However, this scenario can also raise concerns about international capital flows and the stability of the financial markets.

Tackling the national debt requires serious conversations around difficult issues. The solution involves cutting spending while increases taxes. Policymakers will have to make these tough decisions. While the solution to this problem ultimately rests with the Congress, the Fed is able to influence the debt with its monetary policy. However, it is important to note that while rate cuts could provide temporary relief on debt servicing costs and stimulate economic activity, they may also contribute to inflationary pressures and have broader implications for the global economy. It is important for policymakers to consider these economic principles and potential consequences when formulating monetary policy decisions.

Dr. Robin Dhakal Bio:

Dr. Robin Dhakal

Dr. Robin Dhakal is an Assistant Professor in the Forbes School of Business and Technology. He earned a M.A. and a Ph.D. in Economics from University of South Florida and a B.A. in Business/Economics and Mathematics/Computer Science from Warren Wilson College. His academic research focuses on development economics and political economy. He has been teaching Economics in colleges and universities for the past ten years. You can reach him at robin.dhakal@uagc.edu

Friday, November 17, 2023

Building a Strong Foundation: UAGC Deans Fostering Durable Skills in Higher Education

 Bill Davis, Program Chair, Department of Organizational Studies, Sally Deckard, Faculty Support and Classroom Consultant

In this issue of the UAGC Chronicle, we focus on the UAGC student critical goal to offer high-value credentials with marketable skills. Leading this charge for the College of Arts and Sciences and Forbes School of Business and Technology® are Dean Tony Farrell and Dean Maja Zelihic. Recently, Bill Davis, Program Chair of the BA in Operational Management and Analysis, and Sally Deckard, Faculty Support and Classroom Consultant, sat down with these two UAGC leaders to discuss how this goal is addressed in their respective colleges and the vision for the future, moving forward as fully integrated into The University of Arizona.

Bill Davis: For our first question, please share your college’s approach to providing high-value credentials with marketable skills to enhance our UAGC students’ employability.

Maja Zelihic: In partnership with Forbes Media, we educate professionals who want to gain those cutting-edge skills to move up within their companies or change their career paths. To achieve this, the majority of our programs are informed by an industry advisory board that connects us with those in the industry to ensure our programs cover the necessary theoretical basis framework, which is essential and also focuses on the skills necessary for UAGC students to advance. We are striving to create a quality academic experience that promotes decision-making, negotiation, and critical thinking. If we teach these required skills, no matter the marketplace or industry, our students can apply themselves well. We continually check with experts in the field to confirm that we are teaching our students what they need to know and what employers are looking for while paying attention to the educational landscape, lifelong learning, and essential areas of focus depending on a desired career path.

Tony Farrell: The exciting thing about this critical goal is that, in the College of Arts and Sciences, we have gone through a vetting process of our programs for current alignment with industry standards related to programmatic standards and the skills we can demonstrate through our programs. Our academic leaders, especially Program Chairs, have gone through this vetting process. As a result, we now have a roadmap for current and future programs. When students leave our institution, we want to ensure they have a degree that translates to employability. That is what this critical goal addresses. We want to bridge the gap between a degree, employment, and, ultimately, a career. We are unique because our faculty are practitioners who bring a wealth of knowledge from the workplace. They can provide students with much-needed insight and knowledge about specific programs, degrees, and careers through their desire to give back.

BD: How do you see UAGC faculty and staff as contributing to the value of these credentials so students experience optimal learning opportunities and gain valuable, marketable skills?

MZ: Our faculty are practitioners first and foremost. For example, I recently tasked Assistant Deans with soliciting the experience levels of our faculty. We have former CEOs, CIOs, folks running divisions in their industries, business owners, and researchers across the world. One of our instructors owns numerous patents. These people are innovators, and as they are teaching students specific skills, they are not just taking everything out of the textbooks. What they are teaching is based on their experience in the industry.

TF: Looking at specific programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, we have a very eclectic group of programs; in these programs, we have this group of content experts. Our faculty can bridge that area from the degree to the actual career. Our faculty can support our curriculum by providing real-world examples and looking at case studies, course readings, and assignments, and they translate that to the world of work. Our faculty are the most critical individuals when it comes to supporting our students to optimize these learning opportunities.

BD: Durable skills, also known as “power or soft skills,” are essential for success in the workplace. These skills include communicating effectively, adapting to changing industries, demonstrating leadership, displaying emotional intelligence, and creatively engaging in collaboration and critical thinking. How do UAGC degree programs and courses provide students with the technical and durable skills to succeed in today’s job market?

MZ: The old way of thinking was that we needed to cover everything content-wise and give students “the meat on the bones” of the course, and unfortunately, we neglected skills that today one would consider essential. For example, in revising the MBA program, the faculty felt strongly about including exercises such as having students do an elevator pitch and setting up a LinkedIn profile. We have included gaming, where our students are doing simulations. Some of these simulations are based on unique input provided by the student, so no student will have the same experience, and within the class, students will share their experiences. Through this process, students practice decision-making, negotiation, and critical thinking skills, which replicate an actual business environment. We are teaching students to assess the variables and make the best decision based on those circumstances. Just like in the real business world, you may not get the ideal situation, and you make the best decision based on what you have.

TF: The student journey at UAGC starts with GEN101, and we begin developing these soft or durable skills there. The skills are intentionally built into the curriculum, especially when we think about our GEN ED sequence, which supports student mastery of these skills within the scope of their degree. We don’t expect students to come to UAGC with these skills; we introduce, reinforce, and promote the mastery of these skills. Our faculty coach, mentor, and support students in building these skills. In building our courses, we bring in primary sources and multi-media resources, and students have access to role models and examples, all in support of this mastery. How we evaluate learning outcomes in our courses and programs aligns with these skills. It is incumbent on faculty as they develop courses to bring real-world examples into courses, which will enhance the development of these skills.

BD: How does UAGC research the job market, identify which degree programs and skills are in demand, and how do our academic programs meet those demands?

TF: We continue to have opportunities to build on the job market research process at our institution. We leverage career services and the work of the UAGC Business Education Services Team (BEST) in that effort. A big part of how we identify areas of growth and opportunities is our educational partnership teams, who are going out to the industry and talking to our partners about the needs of our clients –including those in business, health care, and education. They are reporting the trends they see in hopes that we can address those needs. We are proactively looking at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics data as we look to possible future programs. We want to engage our students and faculty to understand some of these needs as well.

MZ: We have a significant advantage in our partnership with Forbes Media. We have the Forbes Advisory Board, which has some of the top thought leaders in the United States. They are world-renowned leaders, and they provide valuable feedback on our curriculum. The vast majority of our programs also have industry board advisors. We show them what we are teaching students and ask them, “This is what we are teaching students. Is there something we should be teaching them that we are not? Is there something we are teaching that is no longer relevant, keeping in mind that if you give them the proper baseline, regardless of how the market changes, they will take skills into the marketplace?” We must also recognize what is happening in business globally. You must have that mindset of what is happening around the world. A 100% domestically based business is a thing of the past and degree programs must reflect that perspective.

BD: Continuing with the discussion of providing programs that meet industry needs, what is UAGC doing or considering in micro-credentials or certificate programs that provide students with specific high-demand skills?

TF: We will have some great opportunities, post-University of Arizona integration, to focus on some of these areas that may not lead to a degree. We will benefit from this effort with valuable feedback from the BEST Team, advisory boards, faculty, and especially our students as needed. It may be a bit cliché, but as Wayne Gretzky once said, we need “to skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” The future state of education may not always be a two-year, four-year, or graduate degree program. We will have to be responsive to the needs of students in the workplace. I hope we can leverage micro-credentials, which can lead to a degree if the student chooses. Let’s be innovative in an intelligent way.

MZ: In the Forbes School of Business and Technology®, we are identifying our courses that can be packaged into certificate programs. Our BEST Team will work with our corporate partners to identify the certificates that are in most demand right now and that our corporate partners would like to see us provide. We have identified courses aligned with the industry standards, such as our courses, which are SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) certified.

BD: Can you share how a program self-study helps UAGC Program Chairs better understand and design programs that prepare our students for success? In other words, how does this process provide opportunities for UAGC students to gain even more marketable skills and experience success in the job market?

TF: The self-study is probably the most beneficial and important process in critically examining our programs. We analyze student success metrics, the acquisition and mastery of learning outcomes, and the demographics of our student population. Taking that critical eye, the self-reflection done in self-study paints a picture of the tremendous quality of our programs and areas of opportunity. We empower our Program Chairs to engage with external reviewers who are thought leaders and subject matter experts and are highly regarded in that field of study. These reviewers will think critically about our programs by reading the program self-study report and then complete a two-day virtual site visit where they meet with key stakeholders. One of the benefits of our evolution to a remote workforce is engaging with reviewers all over the country. We aim to work with external reviewers who are currently working in the field and who are thinking about the future state as it refers to employment trends in areas that relate to these programs. At the conclusion of the self-study, the external review report is transformed into an action plan that will benefit our students.

MZ: It is imperative to step back and reflect. The self-study provides an opportunity to decompress and reflect and, to the extent possible, look at the program from the perspective of an outsider, looking at peer studies, market demands, and every course in a program with a critical eye. Our external reviewers are incredibly objective and equally passionate professionals. Their insights on the self-study report provide feedback on what we are doing well, what may need a minor tweak, and what needs significant repair. As hard as it is to do these studies, I have not met a single chair that walked away without saying, “I am so glad we have done this,” and a newly found sense of passion and purpose. As a Dean, I have discovered so much, sometimes things that are right in front of us, and we don’t see it.

BD: I would like to thank you both for the time you have shared. You have provided valuable information, insights, and inspiration, and it is clear that the UAGC Forbes School of Business and Technology® and the College of Arts and Sciences are in excellent hands.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Forbes School of Business and Technology Celebrates the Esteemed Fulbright Specialist Placement of Assistant Dean Dr. Katie Thiry and Associate Faculty Dr. Diane Hamilton

In warmest congratulations! Katie Thiry, assistant dean of the Forbes School of Business and Technology® at the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC), and Diane Hamilton, associate faculty member and former MBA program chair at UAGC, have received the prestigious distinction of being included on the Fulbright Specialist Roster. This esteemed recognition, awarded for a distinguished tenure of three years, is presented by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and World Learning, highlighting the exceptional knowledge and dedication exhibited by these outstanding academic leaders.

This recognition is a testament to their incredible dedication and knowledge in the academic world. Selected through a highly competitive peer review process, Katie and Diane are now poised to embark on collaborative projects with institutions in over 150 countries worldwide. This is a true testament to their expertise and UAGC’s potential to forge international educational and cultural partnerships & create international opportunities.

Katie’s bio:

Dr. Katie Thiry is the Assistant Dean for Organizational Studies and Professor in the Forbes School of Business and Technology® at the University of Arizona Global Campus. Dr. Thiry is committed to transforming the higher education landscape and proactively acquires new tools and strategies to generate equitable outcomes for all students through extensive, continuous study and practice. Dr. Thiry earned the “Ensuring Equitable Student Success in Higher Education” certification from Harvard Graduate School of Education to gain a deeper understanding of student success. Dr. Thiry is a founding Board member for the Center for Women’s Leadership (CWL) established by the Forbes School of Business and Technology® to provide a community for networking and professional development. Dr. Thiry is also a recognized expert in the HR field having earned the SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), Talent Acquisition Specialty Credential, and the Workplace Investigations Specialty Credential from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Committed to continuous learning, Dr. Thiry also completed the SHRM People Manager Qualification (PMQ). Thiry is also a Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) through the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) from the HR Certification Institute (HRCI), and a Certified Professional in Learning & Performance (CPLP) by the Association for Talent Development (ATD).
Dr. Thiry is a founding Board member for the Center for Women’s Leadership (CWL) established by the Forbes School of Business and Technology® to provide a community for networking and professional development. Dr. Thiry co-established the CWL Mentoring Program to support the Center's vision of a world in which all women are empowered as leaders. She holds a PhD in Education, with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement, from Capella University; a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from St. Catherine University; and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Diane’s bio:

Dr. Diane Hamilton is the Founder and CEO of Tonerra, a consulting and media-based business. She is the former MBA Program Chair at the Forbes School of Business and Technology. She is a keynote speaker and author of multiple books required in universities worldwide, including Cracking the Curiosity Code: The Key to Unlocking Human Potential and The Power of Perception: Eliminating Boundaries to Create Successful Global Leaders. Thinkers50 Radar, considered the Academy Awards for Leadership, chose her as one of the top minds in management and leadership.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Center for Women’s Leadership (CWL) Studies GRIT in Graduates

Center for Women's Leadership
By Dr. Brandy Havens
As part of their ongoing commitment to bridging gender gaps and promoting equity in organizational leadership, the Center for Women’s Leadership (CWL) at the Forbes School of Business & Technology (FSBT) recently conducted a study to assess the role that GRIT, comprised of elements of passion and perseverance, plays in the success of women working-parent students.

At the UAGC May 2023 graduation in Phoenix, Arizona, representatives of the CWL surveyed more than 100 women graduates, 68.6% of whom identified as parents, and were graduating with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. These graduates responded to ten prompts, originally developed by Angela Duckworth and published in her 2016 book, GRIT, the Power of Passion and Perseverance, designed to measure their GRIT based on the level to which they agreed with or identified with each prompt.

The results showed that parent graduates were slightly “grittier” than nonparent graduates in both passion and perseverance. Younger parents, those between 25 and 34 years of age, scored highest on the perseverance scale, while older parents, those between 55 and 64 years of age, scored highest on the passion scale. Perhaps the most interesting result occurred in a specific perseverance prompt: “Setbacks don’t discourage me.” Both parents and nonparents scored notably lower on this prompt compared with the other perseverance prompts, with parents scoring 37.3% lower and nonparents scoring 31.1% lower.

Understanding how passion and perseverance influence the success of women students places the CWL in a much better position to offer the resources, development opportunities, and community support that will be most beneficial for women students at UAGC.   

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

2023 University Fellows Program Roundtable Session 4

2023 University Fellows Program Roundtable Session 4

Each UAGC University Fellows Program Roundtable highlights one critical student goal and three recently completed UFP projects. Thursday, September 21st at 11 AM PT Critical Student Goal: Enhance students’ economic return Brandy Havens - Promoting GRIT in Online Women Students Karen Ivy - Applying Artificial Intelligence Toward Student Success Kelly Olson Stewart - Culture of Care: Exploring Perceptions of Support from UAGC Doctoral Students.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

University Fellows Research Roundtable Recordings (UFP) 2023

University Fellows Program offers up to $100K in grants per year for faculty engaged in research. The findings from such research support the University’s critical student goals such as

1. Retaining students during their first year of enrollment.
2. Supporting completion of programs and educational goals driven by student-based timelines.
3. Offering high value credential with marketable skills.
4. Enhancing students’ economic return.

The grants can be used for research assistants, materials and supplies, equipment, software, conferences, travel expenses, publication fees, and other research-related activities.

2023 UFP Roundtable Session 1

Video Description: Each UAGC University Fellows Program Roundtable highlights one critical student goal and three recently completed UFP projects. Thursday, August 10th at 11 AM PT Critical Student Goal: Retain students during their first year of enrollment Stephanie Fink - Making the C.A.S.E. : ePortfolio-Driven Design in the Liberal Arts. Holly Ourso - Live Learning Mathematics Expansion to Required Virtual Live Learning Mathematics Holly Lopez - ECE Retention Project


2023 UFP Roundtable Session 2

Video Description: Each UAGC University Fellows Program Roundtable highlights one critical student goal and three recently completed UFP projects. Thursday, August 24th at 11 AM PT Critical Student Goal: Support completion of programs and educational goals driven by student-based timelines Dan Tinianow - Expanding on immersive experiences for students and faculty Clifford Blizard - One Small Step to Lifelong Learning: Assessing the Short- and Long-Term Impacts of an Environmental Footprint Reduction Project on General Education University Students Wendy Conaway - Preparing for the Oral Defense: Enhancing Doctoral Students’ Public Speaking Skills.

2023 UFP Roundtable Session 3

Video Description: Each UAGC University Fellows Program Roundtable highlights one critical student goal and three recently completed UFP projects. Thursday, September 7th at 11 AM PT Critical Student Goal: Offer high-value credentials with marketable skills Tanya Mooney - The Impact of Student Study Hours: Perceived Perception of First-Year Student Success and Persistence Dan Tinianow - Supporting student success with interstitial skills courses Hwangji Lu - The Effectiveness of Implementing ePortfolio in a Capstone Course: A Case Study

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Congratulations to Dr. Karen Ivy – Fulbright Specialist

 “I don’t focus on what I’m up against. I focus on my goals, and I try to ignore the rest.”—Venus Williams

 Venus Williams and I share a winning passion in life… we focus on our goals!

I am excited to have recently received approval to be a Fulbright Specialist. This prestigious  awarded is granted by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and World Learning!  The Fulbright Program is a United States Cultural Exchange Program with the goal of improving intercultural relations, cultural diplomacy, and intercultural competence between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills.  

The Fulbright Specialist Program is a unique opportunity for U.S. academics and established professionals to engage in two- to six-week, project-based exchanges at host institutions across the globe. This is a prestigious award, and I feel blessed to be chosen to represent the United States!

“As a Fulbright Scholar, I feel honored to have the opportunity to provide global impact on academic transformation for a host country!  This Fulbright collaboration aligns well with our UAGC mission and provides potential directions for future global collaborations for UAGC.”

My project focus with the host country will provide opportunities for global collaborations between UAGC students and students from the host country.  Structured with intent, my Fulbright program will support retention of students in their programs, enhance global  leadership skills, and provide global experiences and collaborations toward career preparation.

Dr. Karen Ivy

What do I look forward to during my time in the host country? Working on global teams with impact to academic transformation and student success!


     When we see the global world as one… we can achieve magnificent goals together!

            Dr. Karen Ivy,  Fulbright Specialist


Want to find out more about the Fulbright Program, visit: https://www.fulbrightprogram.org/