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Highlighting the Research and Expertise of College of Charleston Professors

Professor Patrick Harwood
Department of Communication


Professor Frank Hefner

Renard Professor Frank Hefner

Savvy Analyst a Media Favorite
By William Thompson

"Can you do this?" economics professor Frank L. Hefner asks, while juggling three brightly colored balls, from behind his desk covered in neat stacks of papers and folders. "You'll never be successful if you don't learn to do this."

It's fitting that a professor so good at juggling balls is also adept at juggling a hectic professional schedule as well.

Between producing local, state and regional economic forecasts and giving frequent media interviews on business and economic issues, Hefner teaches the difficult but valuable subject of economics. And still he manages to find time to get on the water for some beloved boating.

As an undergraduate, Hefner attended Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, earning his B.A. in economics in 1971. He would go on to earn his M.A. and Ph. D, both in economics, from the University of Kansas.

Charleston's maritime culture is part of what attracted Hefner to the College of Charleston. Another attraction was the balance the college offered between teaching and research. Hefner says during his time spent teaching at larger universities he noticed that the big school atmosphere bred professors who were more interested in research than teaching.

"We have a very nice balance between teaching and research," at the College of Charleston, Hefner says.

Since coming to the college in 1995, Hefner has made his mark as an accomplished economist with a respected reputation around the state.

For two years he chaired the Department of Economics and Finance and is currently the Director of the Office of Economic Analysis, which Hefner founded in 2007.

The Office of Economic Analysis is a group of "people interested in applied research relevant to the local community," he says. Job loss and creation in the Charleston area, and the local housing market, are among the office's research subjects.

Hefner brought the inspiration for the Office of Economic Analysis with him from large universities; however unlike similar departments in other schools, C of C's office provides more interpretation than graphs and numbers.

"It's more important to explain what's going on and that's our job," Hefner says. "What does it mean for the average person in the Charleston area?"

As well as being a prominent figure around the Beatty Center on campus, Hefner is well known within the economic world of Charleston. He has done contract-based research involving major clients, such as evaluating the economic impact of the recycling industry for the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and developing a cost-benefit model for the tourism industry for the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

He has also done consulting work with numerous clients such as the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston Art Gallery Association, and the Town of Kiawah Island.

Hefner has also researched for, and advised the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, and the U.S. Department of Education. He has also done consulting work with numerous clients such as the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston County, and the Town of Kiawah Island.

Hefner calls his work with the Lowcountry while teaching "the perfect combination. I've been very lucky to be able to do that," he says.

Hefner participates annually in the Regional Advisory Committee of the South Carolina Board of Economic Advisors. During his time working in the Charleston area, Hefner has published more than 20 articles and columns in The (Charleston) Post and Courier.

Hefner is also active in the Southern Regional Science Association, a conglomerate of college professors from all over the Southeast who are interested in regional analysis. He describes his involvement with SRSA as, "My academic home outside of the college." He has been the organization's president and secretary and has brought national meetings to Charleston.

Hefner leads a busy life, however while juggling its many aspects, he never fails to keep his focus on the College of Charleston. The main courses he teaches are: the Principles of Macroeconomics, Intermediate Economics, and Econometrics and Forecasting.

"There's more of a sense of excitement around the college than there was 10 years ago," Hefner observes. "What is exciting is our students, and how we can get our students to think critically and have a joy for learning. I'm always excited by that, it's always a challenge."

For Hefner the true measure of a professor is not how the students judge his or her class while taking it, but five years down the road. Hefner says he is still in touch with various students he has influenced to think critically over the years.

Hefner has traveled the world studying economics, spending time in faraway lands such as Romania and Poland. He is an avid sailor who at one point in his life taught sailing in the Caribbean. He is also a seasoned pilot. Professor Hefner is happily married and the proud father of two.