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Sally E. Hays

Sally E. Hays

Professor of Economics, Graduate Faculty for Outdoor Industry MBA
Borick Business Building 228


Ph.D., University of Oregon, Economics, 1999
M.A., University of Oregon, Economics, 1996
B.A., University of Colorado Boulder, Economics and Mathematics, 1992


Sally Hays, Ph.D., has taught economics at Western since 2004. A Littleton native, she received her B.A. from the University of Colorado Boulder in Economics and Mathematics (1992). After working two years as a statistician for Standard and Poor’s Compustat in Denver, Hays went on and received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oregon (1999). Sally’s research focuses on economic incentive structures for groundwater protection and energy efficiency programs.

Her teaching interests include microeconomics, econometrics, regulatory economics, environmental economics, mathematical economics, statistics, natural resource economics and industrial organizations. Hays started her academic career teaching at California State University, Fresno for four years. In addition to teaching within the Economics Department, she participated in an interdisciplinary course dealing with River Restoration Planning on the Merced River for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In 2004, Hays and her family were able to “move home” to Colorado and began teaching at Western. In addition to teaching a variety of economics courses, Hays is an active member of the Environmental Studies council. In addition, Hays currently serves on the board of directors for Tenderfoot Child and Family Development Center in Gunnison.

How did you discover Western?

I am a Colorado native and attended Colorado Girl State at Western during my junior year in high school. After receiving my Ph.D., I taught four years at Fresno State University in California. During this time, my husband and I wanted to return to Colorado to raise our kids. Luckily, a job opening in economics happened and we moved here in 2004.

What are some of the highlights of your career?

Some highlights of my career include completing my Ph.D. while seven months pregnant with my first child. Balancing parenthood and academia can be a challenge.

While at Fresno State, I participated in an interdisciplinary course dealing with River Restoration Planning on the Merced River for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. In 2012, I was Fulbright scholar to Iceland. While there, I taught two courses and researched how Iceland changed from using carbon-based fuels in the 1970s to today only utilizing renewable energy (hydro and geothermal make up almost all of Iceland’s electricity generation). In 2015, I took four Western students to Harlaxton, England, to study the tourism economy. In 2016, I took seven Western students to study the energy economy and tourism economy in Iceland.

What most excites you about your field?

I love teaching economics because economic theory can be applied to almost every situation. In addition, I teach business statistics every semester and seeing students realize the power in questioning our decisions based on numbers.

What is your favorite thing about the Gunnison Valley?

The amazing outdoor activities that are available in this isolated valley. This combination of outdoor activities and isolation draw an amazing mix of individuals that makes for a wonderful community.

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