A.B. Economics, Indiana University Bloomington, 1979
Former Assistant Professor, Indiana University
Professor, Baylor University
Whenever I think of Elmus Wicker—or "Wick" as I quickly came to address him after I got to know him—three separate images emerge in my mind. The first is of Wick's professionalism. I first felt that aspect of his character indirectly, several years before I had met him, as an undergraduate student in Jim Boughton's E350 money and banking course, in which the well written Boughton-Wicker textbook gradually drew my interest to the eventual subject of my own life's professional work. Wick's office was located just a few steps down the hall from mine on Ballantine Hall's eighth floor, and I relished experiencing our regular conversations about research, teaching, and current events. The depth of his intellect could be a bit staggering. Wick never halted in his pursuit of a fuller understanding of monetary economics, as evidenced by the publication of his "Terminating Hyperinflation in the Dismembered Habsburg Monarchy" in the American Economic Review and of books that blazed new paths about banking panics and the formation of the Federal Reserve System—all published during years that unknowing observers otherwise might have assumed surely would become "twilight years" of one whom already had experienced a highly productive career.
Another image of Wick is of a scholar with a deeply ingrained ethical compass. I shall never forget the firmness of Wick's voice regularly reminding his IU colleagues about the principle of "one person, one vote" in departmental decision making. He never ceased in his efforts to impress upon colleagues the importance of making judgments about hiring or tenure and promotion based upon actual readings of candidates' writings and carefully thought evaluations of the merits of individuals' contributions as scholars and teachers. Little could raise Wick's ire more quickly than the idea that important decisions might be swayed by personal considerations, superficial impressions, or prevailing academic fads.
My final image of Wick is of a kind-hearted human being whom it was a privilege to have been able to get to know. To be sure, Wick rather enjoyed his reputation among undergraduates as a bit of a taskmaster, and I recall with a smile how he once related to me having been the basis of a character depicted visually in the panels of an IU student-newspaper comic as an examination score of zero. Nevertheless, when Wick sometimes uproariously stated, for effect, "Students don't know anything!" he always did so with a twinkle in his eye. Anyone who really got to know Wick could well perceive how much he cared about helping nudge young people onto the best possible paths. Wick always wore his love for his wife Carolyn on his sleeve, and although I never met his children Vanessa and Roger, I can recall their names coming up multiple times in conversation, and the strength of his feeling for them and pride in their accomplishments was apparent.
I have always regretted likely as a consequence of the fact that Wick was busily working as the IU economics department chair when I was an IU student, his Econ 355 Monetary Economics course was not offered during my junior and senior years. I thereby missed out on the experience of taking that course with him. Learning from him as a colleague, however, was one of the most truly invaluable experiences that I took away from the two rewarding intervals of my life that I was fortunate to spend in Bloomington.