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AUBG’de Bizden Sesler - 1

Didar Erdinc: A Professor's Greatest Reward

To inspire. To motivate. To trigger your ambitions, the chance to be a discoverer… Through economics? Yes, it is possible.

It’s what economics professor Didar Erdinc has been doing ever since she came to teach at the American University in Bulgaria 13 years ago.

Today – thanks to a large extent to the efforts of faculty such as Professor Erdinc – AUBG’s economics program is the best in Bulgaria, according to the newly launched official Bulgarian University Ranking system, in addition to being one of the most popular majors at the University.

Understandably, Professor Erdinc is proud of her department’s achievements, but in her typical, forward-looking manner she asserted that “we will continually strive to achieve even better results, to become the very best economics program in Southeastern and Central Europe. We have the potential, commitment, energy and enthusiasm to do that.”

Commenting on the economics’ program excellent showing in the Bulgarian ranking system, she added: “This is a real tribute to the unrelenting work of our faculty, and students, and the support of our alumni and the AUBG administration.”

Professor Erdinc deserves some of the credit for these achievements.

“She gives relevant, up-to-date examples, and thus brings life to everything we study,” a former student, Alina Gilmutdinova, said about Erdinc’s teaching. “She makes it useful and pertinent.” Another student, Teodora Nenova, added: “When I was taking her Econometrics class, I remember how we used to spend whole nights studying and calculating, only because we wanted to get the results and be able to show them to her in the next class.”

Appreciation is the reward students give to professor Erdinc, grateful for all her demands and high expectations from them.  But appreciation is also her attitude towards them, and expressions like “I learn so much from you!” are something you can often hear her say to a student.

Former students’ achievements are a further testament to Erdinc’s and her colleagues’ academic caliber and professionalism.  

Some of the most powerful economic institutions in the world, such as the World Bank and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, have recognized the abilities of AUBG graduates, hiring them in key positions.

At AUBG, economics majors not only receive outstanding preparation for high-powered careers but also learn valuable research skills through senior thesis projects that prime them for top academic positions.

“We strive to provide and encourage the best quality undergraduate research environment for our students in our senior thesis program. Some of the faculty-student joint research papers have been presented in top conferences in the field and some of our students presented their research at the Carroll Round Student Conference for economics seniors in Georgetown University, receiving distinction,” Professor Erdinc says.

Several AUBG economics graduates have received their MBA or Ph.D. degrees from prestigious schools, such as Harvard University, University of California, Berkeley, Duke University, and Brandeis University. Moreover, AUBG economics alumni work as faculty at top universities around the world, such as New York University (NYU) in New York City and Bocconi University in Milan.
Professor Erdinc arrived in Blagoevgrad in 1997 with a Ph.D. degree in Economics from the University of Southern California, having graduated from Bosphorous University in Istanbul with a BA degree in Economics. She taught in a variety of U.S. universities, including Hamilton College and Pepperdine University.  She is the Chair of the Economics Department at AUBG and teaches some of the advanced courses in the program.  Her classes are known for being challenging and demanding, but her name brings warm smiles to her students’ faces.

Positive approach. These are the two key words in Erdinc’s teaching. The first thing that strikes you during her lectures is how incredibly passionate she is about the subject she is presenting. Regardless of whether the material is very hard or seems a little dry on the surface, by the end of the class it becomes understandable and approachable, and the students involved and curious.

A bit of a perfectionist, Erdinc admits that she is always trying to improve her courses and she never teaches them the same way twice. She says that’s because no course could be called “permanently good” if it is not constantly developed, since its value and fascination would fade away.

When it comes to research interests, Erdinc has a variety of topics she dedicates her time to; credit markets, business cycles, monetary policy, Bulgarian banking, economics of EU enlargement are some of the subjects that have held a lasting appeal for the economics professor. Apart from her articles, which appear in numerous economic journals, her most significant achievement so far is the publishing of her book in October 2008. Bank Behavior and Crisis under Macroeconomic Uncertainty focuses on Turkey during the period 1980 – 1996.

“The book provides one of the first systematic analyses of financial intermediation and origins of crises in transitional economies [which are] undergoing reform and liberalization,” professor Erdinc explains. It develops two theoretical models of financial intermediation under uncertainty and gives empirical analyses of the impact of credit crunches, financial mismanagement and crisis, and banking mechanisms serving as a barrier against crisis-induced uncertainty.  It explores in-depth banking sectors undergoing reform, the effects of uncertainty on the credit markets and the financial origins of macroeconomic crises and banking failures. Today, when the global economy is taken over by a still unfolding economic crisis, her book seems especially relevant.

Beyond professor Erdinc’s activities with her classes, her research and her publications, she is also a Faculty Representative to the Board of Trustees and is part of the recruitment team for prospective new students in Turkey. That latter role is of particular importance because AUBG’s Admissions Office is recruiting in the country for the first time. Thus, she is contributing to the opening of a new recruitment market and the acceptance of the AUBG diploma in Turkey. When there’s any spare time in her schedule, Erdinc participates in various events organized by AUBG clubs, such as a recent roundtable discussion on the global financial crisis or debates on gender relativism or equality.

The secret to her boundless energy and passion to work is her students. “Every year you see that you take part in changing the lives of those young people. It’s very rewarding; it gives me unbelievable joy to see the immediate impact of all the hard work.” She feels that her teaching is the best way she can make a difference in the world.