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CEEE celebrates 40th

Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship commemorates 40 years

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7:57 a.m., Oct. 14, 2011--The multiplier effect. The ripple effect. The domino effect. No matter which catchphrase you use, this is how the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware has stimulated economics, personal finance and entrepreneurship education in Delaware and beyond for the past four decades.

At a commemorative event held Tuesday, Oct. 11, more than 125 friends, supporters and educators convened at Arsht Hall on the University’s Wilmington campus to recognize the achievements of the CEEE.

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Jim O’Neill, long-term director of the CEEE, shared significant numbers with the audience.

“We did the math and consider the impact,” said O’Neill. “If each graduate of our Master of Arts degree in Economics and Entrepreneurship for Educators (MAEEE) – about 15 MAEEE classes of 25 graduates each – taught on average three classes of 25 students each year, over a 20-year teaching career those teachers would reach 562,500 students.”

Based on a survey in 2003, the center also found that MAEEE graduates developed and/or taught a total of 1,818 in-service programs – numbers that provide an even greater multiplier effect.

“If a modest number of 10 teachers attended each in-service and taught one class of 25 students per year, over the course of a 20-year teaching career those teachers could reach over 9 million students,” said O’Neill, drawing a round of applause from the audience.

David Lyons, president and CEO of Lyons Companies, served as master of ceremonies for the evening and offered tidbits of other statistics about programs offered by the CEEE.

“As you’ve heard, the philosophy of the center is the power of the teacher,” said Lyons, who is also chairman of the Delaware Council on Economic Education (DCEE). “Here are some more numbers: on a yearly basis, the CEEE offers approximately 100 in-service and graduate classes for 1,600 teachers, ultimately reaching over 40,000 students – even more evidence of the CEEE’s impact.”

University President Patrick Harker commended O’Neill and the CEEE on the power of their work.

“Forty years is an impressive milestone and the center’s longevity speaks volumes about the importance of its efforts,” said Harker. “Because of the CEEE, Delaware has rigorous and well-articulated content standards in economics, and teachers who are well prepared to teach economics, entrepreneurship and personal finance through lessons that engage and resonate.”

Harker also noted the difference the CEEE has made in driving young people to be better consumers, better investors and better entrepreneurs.

“Through its programs, the CEEE has made young people less susceptible to financial insecurity; more aware of our national economic policy; and more informed, more participatory citizens who – by their votes and their advocacy – can help shape that policy.”

Keynote speaker Michael N. Castle, former governor and Congressman, also talked about the positive influence the CEEE has on students.

“The world has changed for better or for worse and people face vastly difference circumstances today,” said Castle, who is now a partner with law firm DLA Piper. “Longevity with a company is a thing of the past and young people today are going to need to go beyond something as simple as buying GE stock.”

Castle noted that through the CEEE, students gain a better understanding of the world around them in terms of personal finance, savings, trading stocks and more.

“In the middle of all these world changes, Jim O’Neill and others at the CEEE are making a difference,” said Castle. “School districts are engaged and teachers and students understand the economy and their roles as individuals in how it all works. The bottom line is Delaware has a vast lead in this area and it is because of the CEEE.”

Toward the latter part of the evening, O’Neill offered reflections on his tenure at the center, noting the importance of a structure in its founding and the support of constituents in and outside the University.

“Through all my years at the CEEE, each UD president has been critical to our success, as well as the deans and department chairs of the Lerner College and the staff of the center,” said O’Neill. “Beyond the walls of UD, the DCEE has been essential in offering broad-based support. It has been the commitment of all of these people that has pushed the CEEE forward.”

O’Neill also spoke about the many student programs offered by the CEEE, and discussed the importance of developing not just critical thinking and communication skills, but teaching creativity.

“Economics is a way of thinking. Entrepreneurship involves calculating and taking risk,” said O’Neill. “At the CEEE, we are developing lifelong skills, and I hope all we have shared with you this evening proves – economics is not dull and boring.” 

The comment drew another rousing round of applause.

Just prior to the end of the program, Lyons called O’Neill to the podium and awarded him the inaugural James B. O’Neill Award for Excellence in Economic Education and Entrepreneurship.

The award, created by the DCEE and CEEE, bears O’Neill’s namesake as a tribute to his work and commitment through the center. 

Going forward, the award will be presented each year at the CEEE Annual Economic Forecast Symposium to recognize an individual who has made substantial contributions to promoting economic and financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

Surprised yet honored, O’Neill accepted the award to a standing ovation and acknowledged once more, “It has truly been an honor to be a part of the growth of the CEEE and I would not be here today if it were not for the great support from each and every person in this room.”

A commemorative documentary video, which can be seen above, was also unveiled at the event. Complete with visuals of CEEE founder, the late Harry Hutchinson, and interviews of center friends, graduates and staff, the video was the talk of the evening after the ceremony.

“What a fantastic way to show all that the center has done over the past four decades,” said one attendee. “It was truly well done and a fitting tribute to the work of everyone at the CEEE.”

About the CEEE

The Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship at UD was founded in 1971 to address the absence of economics in the K-12 curriculum with the goal of ensuring all students graduating from Delaware high schools would be well grounded in economics with the knowledge and skills to be productive citizens.

Today, the CEEE continues to be the premier organization that provides the highest quality professional development and resources to teachers and students across the state, and it’s primary goal remains: to ensure that economics, personal finance and entrepreneurship are integrated into the K-12 core curriculum to prepare students to make informed decisions in today’s global economy.

Article by Kathryn Meier

Photo by Duane Perry

Video by Robert DiIorio

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