Not Goodbye, Just See ‘Ya Later: Mitch Renkow Retires

Dr. Mitch Renkow earned his PhD from NC State in 1988 and joined the faculty full-time in 1997. As a young economist, his work as an economist took him abroad to places like New Zealand, Tanzania, and India.

Mitch engaged in research and extension activities focused on domestic (U.S.) community and rural development and international development.  His work in community and rural development has spanned a number of topic areas, including rural-urban land use issues, local public finance, solid waste management, diffusion impacts of and broadband, and the economics of local food systems.  His research program in international development focuses on on issues of technology adoption, determinants of market participation, and the aggregate and distributional impacts of agricultural research.

Over his years at NC State he has made a significant impression on his colleagues. Below are some of their comments.

Wally Thurman

Mitch’s area of expertise is urban and rural development, both in the US and internationally.

Mitch is a scholar of the first order.  His commitment to careful economic reasoning is on display not only in his own research, but also in his broader influence on the profession.  He has elevated the conversation in the classroom, seminar room, and hallway

Mitch can be counted on for having the most penetrating, and constructive, questions at a seminar.  His comments on colleague’s papers – when heeded! – invariably improve the quality of the research.  His wise editing of the NC State Economist was instrumental in establishing and enhancing the department’s reputation.

Barry Goodwin

My friendship and relationship as a colleague with Mitch goes back to our graduate school days.  Mitch was a year or two ahead of me and was someone I aspired to emulate.  He was widely known as the top student in the program and I learned a lot from him, even way back in those golden days.  I recall that Mitch wrote an outstanding thesis and later published a paper that was awarded the AJAE Outstanding Journal Article Award.  This is a career milestone for any agricultural economist and to win this at such an early professional stage gave us all a preview of Mitch’s extraordinary career.  I recall my own excitement and pride in seeing Mitch receive this award at the AAEA meetings at Kansas State University in 1991.  This excellence has been the hallmark of Mitch’s entire career. 

Mitch, right, is an active musician.

Mitch’s success as an economist is important to me, but not nearly as important as the friendship and admiration I have for Mitch as a person.  I have always felt a closeness to Mitch that is hard to put into words.  He has a delightful personality and never fails to elicit a smile and laugh from me.  Mitch is one who has stood beside me (really propped me up) during those rare dark times that everyone encounters in their professional lives.  He is an exceptional friend and a special colleague and our programs will never be the same without having him here on a daily basis.  He has been the model agricultural and development economist and I will always count him as a most special friend.

Charles Safley

As Department Head I appreciated Mitch because he was always a good ambassador for ARE, CALS and NC State in his many and varied responsibilities and activities. He was also very professional in performing his departmental duties and his recommendations to his Extension clientele were always based on sound economic advice.

I want to wish Mitch a long, healthy, and happy retirement and hope that he enjoys the fruits of his labor. I’m sure he will not miss those “long and pointless faculty meetings!

Check out Mitch’s musical performance of “Hello Old Friend” at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences during the reception for the National Association of Home Builders National Green Building Conference. Most significant is that the reception was co-sponsored by the NAHB and USGBC as a result of a new memorandum of understanding representing a stronger alliance in the Green Building advocacy world. Videography by Beth Lavinder Williams.