During this past Winter term, students in Professor Larry LaFauci's Macroeconomics class got to see their classroom lessons brought to life through the experiences and stories of Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian.
As both the youngest elected and longest serving mayor of the City of Warwick, it became clear to see why Warwick citizens have kept him around. Not only has he been able to preserve 41 acres of shoreline at the historic Rocky Point, he was able to move the municipal pension system in a positive direction. While Rhode Island and Providence politics have been slightly volatile in recent years, it seems the second largest city in the state has been in good hands for the past decade and a half.
I was extremely impressed by the wealth of information Avedisian had to share with the class—particularly how he explained the rationale behind his decision making when answering questions and addressing the suggestions made by students. It was also very refreshing to see a leader that was willing to work with people from different political parties.
When I tried to throw him a curve ball by asking "What would you say is the best mistake you've made while in office?" he swiftly responded with a story about a time he boarded a flight only to find that the person he was assigned to sit next to was someone he would have preferred to avoid. However, Avedisian continued, this was the best mistake that could have happened because it forced him to (literally) sit with that person and solve the problem they were having.
My biggest takeaway from Avedisian's talk with the class was his focus on Warwick's budget. I appreciate how he shared the struggles that come from deciding how and where to allocate money. I also admired his creativity in finding ways around broken systems in government and his methods for not being wasteful when it came to the city's money. All and all, it was really interesting to hear the terms and concepts we've been learning about all term brought to life from real experiences. A quality education goes beyond reading a textbook, it is about immersing yourself in experiences and with people that can share new perspectives. Mayor Avedisian's talk did exactly that.
This post was contributed by Morgan Thompson, Advertising and Marketing Communications student '17.