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Exit Interview: Victoria Zinde-Walsh

In the next instalment of our Exit Interview series with recently retired professors, Emerita Professor Victoria Zinde-Walsh (Economics) shares insights into her time at McGill, including her favourite courses to teach and her deep appreciation for seeing her students succeed.

Emerita Professor Victoria Zinde-Walsh has devoted her career to teaching and researching economics, with an expertise in econometric theory, time series, and non-parametric methods. She reveals, however, that she initially began her career as a mathematician, having received both her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Mathematics. “At the time, math departments were not hiring, while economics was growing,” she says. “I was forced to switch – sometimes I regret it, and sometimes I am happy about that.”

Although she made the difficult decision to reorient her work, Zinde-Walsh’s career as an economics professor is nothing short of impressive. An accomplished scholar, Zinde-Walsh has had dozens of scholarly articles, book chapters, and working papers published. “I enjoy academic life very much,” she says. “The constant intellectual challenge of making sense of the state of the knowledge, of learning from others, of expositing to students or seminar and conference audiences some of the wonderful results and theorems in the literature and of seeking to add to this body of knowledge in a meaningful way is a wonderful life.” However, Zinde-Walsh notes it is a life not without agony. “Slaving over some topic and not accomplishing much can be difficult,” she notes. “Most of academic life is about rejection – students not appreciating being forced to work hard, papers that seemed so great to the author being rejected…but it’s still worth it!”

Zinde-Walsh’s favourite McGill courses to teach were Honours Statistics (ECON 257) and the advanced doctoral Asymptotic Theory course. “Among our honours students were some of the most capable, curious and enthusiastic students I ever taught. It was a pleasure to teach them and interact with them,” she says. “My students inspired me to look deeply into many of the basic issues of statistics and econometrics.”

Throughout her over thirty-year career with the Faculty of Arts, it was witnessing her students’ success that Zinde-Walsh treasured the most. “I value most highly my student’s achievements and appreciate their seeking my advice and judgement,” she says. “I was lucky with my colleagues, many of whom are dear friends, with my students, with the trust and consideration I enjoyed,” she notes.

To future students and academics, Zinde-Walsh encourages them to “enjoy the highs, draw lessons from the lows, keep a perspective on both and be adventurous…but maybe only after you get tenure!” It’s no surprise, then, that Zinde-Walsh has adventurous plans in mind for her retirement. In addition to research and supervision, she also plans to spend her time writing detective stories, biking, and travelling once COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.

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