Billy Foster, PhD

Billy Foster

Clinical Assistant Professor of Economics at

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A planted seed has value long before it becomes a tree. The potential benefits are enough to give it value. Teaching is the planting of seeds. Knowledge, or even better, wisdom, is an investment like a tree that goes on and on producing fruit. But unlike a fruit tree, you have no idea when the fruit will come or what kind it will be. — Russell Roberts, The Price of Everything (2008)

When I graduated high school, I was certain that I would become a high school physics teacher. I had a passion for math, and physics granted me the first opportunity to apply it to the real world.  After two years at the University of Illinois, I learned that my life’s work would not be in physics.

I left school and headed home to Chicago. I spent my nights immersed in the local band scene trying desperately to succeed as a musician. The  first job I accepted to pay for my music habit was as a data analyst. Nearly immediately I realized that there had to be a better way to utilize data, but had a very poor understanding of advanced statistics. This would change. I was unfulfilled at my job and my music stardom dreams had been quashed. I learned that my life’s work would not be in music.

I decided to return to school at Northeastern Illinois University. Economics found me immediately and I fell in love. I had discovered the lens through which I would examine the world. I decided to pursue graduate school. After my undergraduate degree, I entered the PhD program at George Mason University. My years there were amazing. I had gone to study Public Choice and Law and Economics, but found so much more.

After finishing course work there and earning a masters degree I came back home to continue my studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I could not get enough of my studies and took every teaching opportunity I could find. The last few years have been so rewarding that part of me–a very small part of me–was sad to see graduate school end.

It did end, however, and I was awarded my PhD in August of 2014. I am currently teaching full time at Loyola University Chicago. It has been a long journey, but a fun one. I am looking for an academic home that will embrace my love for inspirational teaching, my desire for interesting research, and my appreciation for academic community. My life’s work will be in economics.