Golden Lopes confront inflation in free course

Finance professor Chris Dueringer focused on the economy and inflation during a Golden Lopes class.

Photos by Ralph Freso

They were in class at Grand Canyon University to understand what’s happening in the economic world – and with their rising monthly expenses.

Inflation is a huge topic with the rate 8.2% in September. Money doesn’t go as far, especially if you are on a retirement income.

“I came to this course because of how relevant it is with the interest rates,” said Robin Burton, an alumna back when it was Grand Canyon College. “I’ve been writing down a lot of little things, the costs and inflation rates. Last week, we had a chart on spending.”

Burton and seven others were attending the second week of four weeks of class in the Golden Lopes program, free courses for community members age 55 or older.

The class was “The ‘I’s Have It!” and explored inflation, interest rates and international impact, led by Colangelo College of Business finance professor Chris Dueringer.

Jenny Hovater listens to finance professor Chris Dueringer during the class.

Dueringer volunteers for the gig.

“I love taking relevant, complex subject matter and making it meaningful to individuals who may not fully grasp the depth of what we are talking about,” he said. “It really starts with my parents. Being a finance professor, they have questions all the time. They are similar age to these folks, so for me it’s rewarding to connect with them on things that are so impactful in today’s world – to have some depth and context with what’s driving all this.”

It wasn’t easy material.

He talked about drivers of inflation – government spending, injecting too much money into the system, rising wages and energy policy, among others.

Rick Volk makes a point during a Golden Lopes class.

It skirted the margins of politics during class. Some in this age group wondered why “no one wants to work,” for example, why student loans should be forgiven or why someone at a fast-food joint should make nearly $20 an hour and drive up the cost of a simple hamburger.

“I try to stay in the middle of the road, but I have my own thoughts on the matter,” Dueringer said. “All of those are embedded with the reality of what we are dealing with, and I use facts to substantiate the conversations.

“If anything, it brings awareness to what is going on. It’s important to have an understanding of how we operate as a society and as a government.”

He thought it was interesting in the prior week’s class to talk about the move from the gold standard, realizing they lived during the time when those decisions were made.

“That’s what is cool about this generation. They were there to experience it,” he said. “Being able to get nuggets of insight from them is a fun conversation to have.”

Some participants could offer information from their past professional background. Rick Volk of Sun City used to teach business courses at GCU but in his retirement felt as if he needed a refresher on the latest information.

“I haven’t had my brain working on this for quite some time,” he said.

Golden Lopes was the brainchild of Homer Drew, a former college basketball coach and father of GCU men’s coach Bryce Drew. He feels good about its strides in only its second year with 86 people signed up for five fall courses that meet on Mondays and Wednesdays.

“Most are retired, and this gives them the chance for continuing education – it gives them the chance to do things they were not able to do when raising a family and working,” Homer Drew said. “They are taking classes they enjoy, and the best thing is, they don’t have to take a test.”

Plus, he said they get to be on an energetic campus of young people and learn more about GCU. Last spring, participants went to a GCU baseball game together.

Ena Hertz (center) along with her husband, Talmon, listen to the explanation of inflation.

This fall’s courses also include two from Theology professors, exploring the prophet Isaiah and significant women of the Bible, a class on technology and a new offering this year, “The Best Safety Defense for Seniors,” taught by GCU’s Director of Public Safety, Mike Caputo. Another set of courses will be offered in the spring semester.

The importance of U.S. economic policy on the world prevailed in Dueringer’s classroom. “It’s imperative we get this right,” he said.

Talmon Hertz was impressed. He’s a professor emeritus of music at Calgary University and joined his wife, Ena, who spent her career working in the finance field.

“As you grow older, you realize how little you know,” Talmon said. “There is always room for learning.”

 Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.

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