AMERICUS (Nov. 2, 2012)—Philip Szmedra, Ph.D. professor of economics, was announced as Georgia Southwestern State University’s 2012-13 Featured Scholar today by President Kendall A. Blanchard, Ph.D. 

GSW economics professor Philip Szmedra is 2012-2013 Featured Scholar

AMERICUS (Nov. 2, 2012)—Philip Szmedra, Ph.D. professor of economics, was announced as Georgia Southwestern State University’s 2012-13 Featured Scholar today by President Kendall A. Blanchard, Ph.D.

Southwestern Scholar—Georgia Southwestern economics professor Philip Szmedra, Ph.D., was named the University’s 2012-2013 Featured Scholar.

The public is invited to join the GSW community at a reception honoring Szmedra Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 4 p.m. in the Rotunda of the Wheatley Administration Building.

“Dr. Szmedra is an energetic, creative, and highly productive economist, who brings something special to our School of Business Administration and to the University as well as to his discipline,” said Blanchard. “His work in various parts of the world and the study-abroad opportunities he makes available to our students are critical components of our efforts to prepare our graduates to compete in a global environment.”

“It’s an honor to be recognized in this way, and I am certainly grateful to the people that selected me,” said Szmedra. “There are other worthy individuals on campus here, and for anyone that has conducted research for a long time, it is nice to be recognized for your work.”

Szmedra’s primary research interests include agricultural economics and public health. Some of his recent work involving diabetes education in the South Pacific has garnered grant funding from the International Diabetes Federation. His research program will use community theater as a way to teach natives about diabetes.

“Other methods of diabetes education aren’t working,” he said. “This approach works in parts of the world that don’t have a great deal of entertainment, whereas here, we are bombarded by all kinds of entertainment choices. If a theater troop comes to town in the South Pacific, it really doesn’t matter what they have to sell – people are going to be there.”

Prior to joining GSW’s faculty in 2001, Szmedra served as an economics instructor at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pa. for a year. Before that, he worked as a senior lecturer in economics at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji Islands from 1996 to 2000.

“My first teaching job was in Fiji,” Szmedra said. “My first research there involved the health of sugar farmers and how the herbicides that they used contributed to chronic disease. That experience drew me to public health, and when I came back to the U.S. in 2001, we expanded that research.”

Before he began his teaching career, Szmedra was an agricultural economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from 1986 to 1996, except between 1990 and 1992 when he served as a volunteer with the Peace Corps in Morocco. There he worked with the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture.

“I worked to help develop young economists,” he said. “We did what was called price analysis, so I traveled all through Morocco visiting grain markets with the notion of establishing a free market in grain all over the country. We established the first market information system for farmers in Morocco.

“Our work led to the establishment of a radio show at five-o-clock every morning announcing grain prices in different regions of the country,” added Szmedra. “That allowed farmers to take their grain to a market that had higher prices than other markets, rather than allowing the government to distribute grain according to its own plan.”

Szmedra’s research is well documented. To his credit there are 40 published peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and USDA journal articles. He has delivered 45 invited presentations and authored another 50 presented papers. In 2010, Szmedra received the Vice President’s Award for Excellence in Research at GSW.

In addition, Szmedra has served at special teaching venues in Bulgaria, China, Argentina, France and the South Pacific. This experience lends itself well to his role as director of the Study Abroad Program at Georgia Southwestern, which he has led since 2003.

A native of Rochester, N.Y., Szmedra earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics from the Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Science and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Georgia.

President Blanchard initiated the Featured Scholar Award in 2008 to recognize, once a year, a GSW faculty member who has made significant contributions to his or her discipline in the form of artistic accomplishment, basic research, writing, publishing, editing, presenting and grant awards. The award recipient is chosen by a committee of faculty members representing each school selected by the Faculty Senate chaired by the past recipient of the award. It carries a stipend of $500.

For additional information, please call (229) 931-2037 or email

Recognized as one of the best colleges in the South, Georgia Southwestern was founded in 1906 and offers bachelors and masters degrees in arts and sciences, business, education, computing and mathematics and nursing as a unit of the University System of Georgia. GSW is located in Americus, Ga., in Sumter County, the home of former President Jimmy Carter.

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