My Career at U of T: An Interview with Dr. Morley Gunderson

April 14, 2015

Morley Gunderson is a professor in the Department of Economics and holds the CIBC Chair in Youth Employment. His research areas include: the labour market impacts of trade liberalization and globalization; gender discrimination, including pay equity; youth unemployment; retirement and pension issues; strikes; and workers' compensation.

Morley Gunderson has been a professor at U of T for over 40 years, mainly at the Centre for Industrial Relations and in the Department of Economics. Although Gunderson is somewhat in denial of his retirement, he took the time to share his U of T story.

Tell us about your career path (i.e., how did you go from your first position at U of T to your most recent position?)

I have been at U of T since 1971, but have had the opportunity to visit numerous places during my career. In 1977-1978 I was on sabbatical at the International Institute for Labour Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, and in various years I was at Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin.

What are some of your favorite U of T memories?

I cherish too many memories to single any out. Certainly, however, getting tenure, being promoted to full professor and getting the CIBC Chair in Youth Employment were all events that provided an excuse to open a great bottle of wine! I thought I received the Chair in Youth Employment because of my academic qualifications – but Rob Prichard (president at the time) told me it was because I was the only faculty member who had four youth at the time…and managed to survive! Designing both the Masters and the PhD programs at U of T and seeing their successful development has certainly been rewarding.

What will you miss the most about working at U of T?

I will certainly miss the interaction with other faculty and staff, as well as students and, particularly, PhD students. I have always had the good fortune of being in a collegial environment where the interactions have been enjoyable and intellectually stimulating. The PhD program at the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources is small, so I get to know the students reasonably well which is a privilege (and a challenge)!

What are you looking forward to after retirement?

I don’t like to use the “R” word; I am definitely in denial about retirement and the aging process in general – as well as my weight!

In other words, I plan to continue doing research and writing, as well as some selected teaching and interaction within policy circles. I am fortunate that my vocation is my vacation, so why would I not continue as long as I can? I would rather work on solving an academic problem than sitting at home working on a cross-word puzzle, or cutting coupons for sales at the supermarket, or organizing the spice cabinets in alphabetical order.

We have four children who are beginning to start families of their own. We have always spent a lot of time with our kids, so I plan to spend even more now that they are having grandchildren. I am looking forward to teaching my grandchildren how to play poker, bet on horses, and watch horror shows on TV – all while their parents are not looking. I also look forward to reading them some of my more technical journal papers – they’ll fall asleep instantly, as did many of my students! Also, visiting my children and grandchildren offers me the opportunity to travel, as we strategically located them in places we want to visit: New York City, Boston, and Silicon Valley.