Petranka said the most difficult transition will be no longer teaching undergraduates.
“I actually love teaching MBAs, but when you’re dealing with undergrads that have the world ahead of them, when you’ve realized that they’ve just switched to a path that’s probably going to make them happier — that feeling of just being so happy for them,” he said. “I don’t have kids of my own and I feel at times that those are my kids.”
Though the loss of undergraduate students hits hardest, Petranka said that the conflicted basketball loyalties run a close second.
“I have a whole lot of light blue in my wardrobe right now, and I’m not comfortable turning it to dark just yet,” he said. “I think the transition is going to be to wear a Fuqua shirt, where you know, it’s Duke, but it’s a very specific sub-part of Duke.”
Alyssa Patel, a recent UNC graduate who took ECON 410 and 510 with Petranka, said his enthusiasm made economics engaging.
“It was being able to solve things that I wasn’t 100 percent sure I could in the beginning,” Patel said.
Petranka’s teaching prowess was well-recognized at UNC.
“He won every award on campus in the three years he was here, so that’s pretty amazing,” said William Parke, an associate professor and director of undergraduate studies for the economics department. “He won awards I didn’t even know existed.”
Parke said the department would have loved to keep Petranka.
“We talked to (Petranka), but he had a heck of an opportunity, so there really wasn’t much that could convince him to stay,” he said.
Petranka said despite the advantages of his new position, his decision was a difficult one.
“If it was an identical job, I don’t see an amount — I mean, there’s always an amount (of money) someone could throw at me, that Duke could have thrown at me,” he said. “If it was the same job, though, within the realm of reason, I don’t think I’d be leaving UNC. Even with what Duke could offer, if it was the same job, just, my heart’s at Carolina.”
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