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Econ Department Hails “Senior” Student

By Chris Lydgate ’90 on December 12, 2014 05:33 PM

Reed economics student

Prof. Noelwah Netusil and long-running economics student Lys Carney.

The Reed economics department threw a party on Friday for lifelong student Lys Carney, a retired businessman who has audited a jaw-dropping total of 19 econ classes—the most in the department’s history.

Lys was already retired in 2005 when he took his first class at Reed, ECON 348, Economics in the Public Sector, with Prof. Noelwah Netusil. “I decided to study what I should have known all the time when I was in business,” he said. “I had a lot of experience, but I never knew the theory.”

He then proceeded to audit one class each semester for the next 10 years for a grand total of 19 (plus one class in the history of science with Prof. Ralph Drayton ’87.)

Lys, whose firm handshake belies his nominal age of 85, prepared himself for every class and did all the reading. He also became a generous supporter of the department, making gifts to promote student and faculty research.

“I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “The classes were interesting. The students were even more interesting. It became my reason for being. I became a true Reedie.”

One of the more memorable classes involved a congressman who came to Reed to talk about social security reform. Unfortunately, the congressman was not well briefed on the subject and the Reed students proceeded to demolish his position. He then made the mistake of referring to retirees as “geezers,” prompting a colorful objection from Lys.

Lys became well-known among econ students for bringing treats such as apples and clementines to class. On one occasion, at the last class of the year, he brought goodie bags for his classmates. Each bag contained an energy bar and a jump rope to get them through finals, a bottle of cheap champagne for the thesis parade, and a length of model railroad track—a reminder not to let distractions derail their studies.

“It was just wonderful to have Lys in class,” said Prof. Netusil. “He didn’t speak often, but when he did, he showed incredible wisdom, wit, and friendship.”

Lys is moving to Seattle to be closer to his family, so the econ department decided to throw a party, which featured a giant raspberry chocolate cake (decorated with a Griffin), an official Reed ballcap, and an impressive diploma conferring upon him the grand distinction of “bachelor of auditory economics.”