“Love interests come and go… but economics stays with you forever.”
Dr. Baugus is an Assistant Professor in the Business, Leadership, and Management Department, specializing in economics. He also does work in poverty economics, writing for publications and partnering with African Bible University in Kampala, Uganda; the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics; and the American Enterprise Institute. During our interview I learned of his love for jazz music and Arizona Arnold Palmers, his complicated feelings towards Top Gun, and got to learn the stories behind his office’s many trinkets.
Where did you grow up?
Dr. Baugus: Interestingly enough, I was born here but grew up in Maryland.
Renée: What was your hometown like?
Dr. Baugus: My hometown was tiny, less than twenty-five hundred people. [It is] what I consider to be my hometown, where I spent most of my childhood. Farm community, small town [with] four or five main streets. We were not very big; most people know my town because it was on the path – there were two ways for people in Baltimore and Washington DC to get to the ocean resorts in Maryland, and one of them was through my town. So, if anyone has heard of my town it’s probably because they stopped to get a hamburger or go to the bathroom on the way to the beach. So, that was our claim to fame in our town. It was called Denton.
You’ve mentioned your family a lot. Tell me about them. What makes your family unique?
Dr. Baugus: That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure I have enough perspective to answer that. I will give you some comments other people have said. A lot of friends that my oldest daughter or Jack have brought home have commented on the fact that we seem to be a very fun family. We don’t take things too seriously. We kid around, joke around a lot, maybe to a fault at times, but we try to have fun even with the most annoying of the circumstances. Maybe a little too sarcastic at times. We have a very dry sense of humor among us; we endeavor to [see] the fun side in any circumstance we find ourselves.
Renée: Where did you get the framed picture of Winston Churchill?
Dr. Baugus: I believe that was from my wife. I’ve had it a long time. The thermometer was from my wife. And this… this is a shell from a A-10 Warthog airplane. I used to be a budget analyst for the State of Maryland and one of my jobs, one of my portfolios, was the International Guard and the Army National Guard and as a gift they gave me this. This is the thing they used to shoot out to kill Russian tanks. So it’s a big bullet.
Renée: And the piece of cement?
Dr. Baugus: [Laughs] Artwork from my daughter from years ago. I could probably get rid of it and no one would notice, but its been with me and there it is. It’s durable, unlike some of the drawings around the corner. My youngest is now twelve and she did that when she was like seven or whatnot. You can’t see it much anymore, but she took flowers and squeezed the juice out and made a little drawing on the concrete and gave it to me. And you know, I’m a dad and she’s a daughter, so.
Do you have any stories from your own Undergraduate experience?
Dr. Baugus: I lived in a quad; I was actually RA and I had to put a stop to this. The dorms faced each other, this was my junior and senior year. In one building was the ROTC, in another building was a fraternity, and they used to have bottle rocket battles. You know, as an RA I had to put a stop to that, but when I wasn’t on duty and wasn’t around, I knew they continued. So, we had the usual college shenanigans. I was not a participant in the bottle rockets, but lets say I was an amused observer.
What would you listen to on a long drive?
Dr. Baugus: It will be a mix of things. I have a number of economics podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis so I’d listen to those. I’ve done some long drives recently where I had a couple books on tape…. Unlike some members of my family, I can listen to books and podcast. There are other people in the family who either don’t like my choice – I can’t imagine anyone objecting to economics podcasts, but if I’m with someone it’s going to dictate somewhat. So, if I’m with my daughter I end up listening to Broadway musicals. With others, the musical choices vary. If I’m by myself podcasts mainly. No one likes my jazz music either.
Renée: Really? Who’s your favorite jazz artist?
Dr. Baugus: Well, I’m partial – I play trumpet. I used to at least. I played into my adult years with the homeschool band, but I haven’t played in a while now. So, I’m partial to trumpet players: Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane, not everything that they’ve done but a lot of the stuff that they’ve done. Modern guys, I’ve seen Wynton Marsalis in concert five or six times. He came through last summer. I enjoy him; he’s with the Lincoln jazz ensemble, which is a really good group. So, I really like him. Diana Kralll, the piano player, she has a little trio. She’s very good as well.
[After a few minutes of geeking out about jazz…]
What do you wish you knew more about?
Dr. Baugus: I wish I could speak languages. I think for my professional purposes, French and German would be good. I know a little, a wee bit. For my personal purposes, my wife is Dutch, and a lot of her family speaks Dutch. I mean they all speak English, but a lot of them speak Dutch. So, it would be nice to have Dutch for personal purposes. I have a, what I call, Tarzan level understanding of Spanish. So when I was in South America, I was able to get around the subway and order food and so on, but as far as conversation with the native speakers, that was not something I was able to do.
Renée: How did you meet your wife?
Dr. Baugus: We were both working for the same company. I was fresh out of my masters program and she was fresh out of her undergraduate program. We were working for the same company and we had training together. She was in a different office. I was in Ohio; she was in New Jersey, but we had training [together] in corporate headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Brand loyalty comes up a lot in our Econ class, is there anything you’re brand loyal to?
Dr. Baugus: The answer to the question is probably yes, but I need to think of examples because I think what you’re looking for is more than a yes. I am very partial to Bryers Ice Cream…. I’m also a big fan of Arnold Palmer Arizona Ice Tea. If I have any drink before me I will probably drink that. There are some in my family who would say I’m too loyal to Mountain Dew… I’m trying to think of something really weird… [laughs]
Oh! For anyone in my family might see this. If I had my choice of any vehicle that works perfectly and properly, I am very partial to old Volvo 240s. I’ve owned two. [My family will] get a kick out of this; there’s an inside joke here, but it’s true too. I really do like them, they’re reliable. The reason is I was in a hit and run in 2005 in my second 240. Went nose first into the car at forty-five miles an hour drove the car away. [I] was not hurt at all, and the car was eventually totaled and I drove it for another four years. That’s how durable and reliable it is. I took the money they gave me to fix up what needed to be fixed, then drove it several more years. So, I have an attachment to my Volvo 240s.
You have a lot of cool things in your office. Which is your favorite?
Dr. Baugus: I do have a number of things in my office. You know, that probably changes from day to day. I really like the socialist stuff back there. In fact take a moment and look at the book back there. You’ll enjoy this. The book that says Why Socialism Works (“It doesn’t”). You got to thumb through it. [laughter]
That was a Christmas gift from my wife. Then the bottle is a gift from a student from a few years ago and they seem to go hand and hand.
The newest thing in my office is my African map. So I will say for now, my African map and my masks, my African display over here, is my coolest thing. [The map] is done by a local artist, in Norfolk. He [did] the map and I bought the masks in the various countries and am hoping to get some more. So that’s my favorite thing. And it presents some of my work in poverty economics and I’ve visited the countries as well.
Renée: That’s very cool. Thank you so much for your time!
Renée Hogan is a Department Head for The Daily Runner.