The Colgate Scene
July 2002

Oxford bound
Lindsay Tuthill, Colgate's next Schupf Fellow

[Photo by Hope Kinchen]

Growing up in the Adirondack village of Lake Placid, N.Y., Lindsay Tuthill said, she learned to "appreciate the effects that scarcity can have on families and the functioning of a village."

Tuthill, Colgate's 2002 Schupf Fellow, used to sit in the kitchen with her father, who works for the National Grid electric company, talking late into the night about issues ranging from welfare policy, to Wal-Mart's expansion in the Adirondack region, to their family's economic situation.

Though she didn't realize it then, Tuthill says now that her value system, strongly influenced by both of her parents, is also firmly grounded in economics. "It has affected my thoughts, my decisions, the dynamics of my family, the car I drive, the clothes I wear and even the friends I've chosen."

Small wonder, then, that Tuthill chose economics as her major, and that her interests lie in energy, growth and environmental issues. "I like [it] most that I can see where [economics] fits in the world, where you can use it and how maybe I can make a difference with it," she said.

In many areas, Tuthill has already made a difference. Teachers and staff members characterize her as not only a joyful and balanced person, but also a truly independent and outgoing student motivated by her love for learning rather than a quest for high grades -- though she got those as well, graduating summa cum laude and with high honors in economics.

For her honors thesis, Tuthill tackled a complex project: to create a model of electricity production for use in the evaluation of energy policies. In the early 1990s, new U.S. environmental regulations began requiring power companies to pay penalties based upon their output of sulphur dioxide, a byproduct of burning fossil fuels to produce electricity, essentially putting a price on the pollution they create. With those costs as part of the equation, Tuthill examined a decade's worth of changes in the price of coal, oil and gas (which emit varying levels of sulphur dioxide when burned) and how firms that use all three respond-ed by substituting one for another. In the end she was able to determine some policy implications on how to reduce emissions in the future.

According to her thesis advisor, Kevin Rask, Tuthill's model "was really impressive. It took a lot of creativity and a lot of work," he said. "She should be able to publish this in a professional journal."

Robert Turner, her academic advisor, said Tuthill pursued her project "the way we wish every student would -- what is the true economic problem here and how do we think about it? How can I convert vague thinking into something specific and investigate how companies' decisions are being made in order to anticipate how they will respond to changed circumstances?"

An Alumni Memorial Scholar, Tuthill was named to the Phi Eta Sigma and Omicron Delta Epsilon honor societies and was among the first group in her class elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Named a Charles A. Dana Scholar and a Leader for the New Millennium, she consistently made the Dean's List. A member of the Colgate Activities Board, she also worked as a research assistant in the sociology department.

Locally, Tuthill worked for the Partnership for Community Development, where she helped with grant proposals for downtown initiatives, and volunteered for Madison County Head Start. "Going to Col-gate, you're not very aware of what's going on around you other than on campus," she said. "Doing that was really great -- to see families, and to see who needed what and how you could help them."

An avid runner, last November Tuthill ran in the New York City Marathon, a post-Sept. 11 event she said was "amazing" to be a part of. She also participated in Colgate's Outdoor Association, as well as club soccer, which she played for four years and where she made most of her best friends at Colgate.

"That's one of the things I've been most happy about having done while I was here," she said.

As the Schupf Fellow, Tuthill will spend the next two years in England at St. Anne's College of the University of Oxford, where she will earn a masters of philosophy degree in economics. The fellowship, created through the generosity of trustee emeritus Paul J. Schupf '58, is thought to be the only annual fellowship offered at an undergraduate liberal arts college in the United States for graduate study at Oxford.

"I hope to spend my second year taking optional courses in development and international economics and working on a thesis that will focus on some aspect of the debates involving these issues," she said.

It's not Tuthill's first trip to England. She spent a semester in Manchester, where study group leader Margaret Darby said she was "a model for embracing the experience."

For a paper on Elizabeth Gaskell's process of writing Charlotte Brontë's biography, Tuthill traveled to the British Library in London on her own and unearthed an article from a Victorian periodical that was crucial to her argument. She had taken great initiative not only in finding it, Darby said, but also in sharing it with her and one of her colleagues at the University of Manchester who is a specialist in the topic. "We were both really pleased to be given copies of it," she said, "because it was very obscure."

Looking to the future, Tuthill plans to keep her options open, but said she ultimately hopes to apply her Oxford education "to the debates about market-based solutions for environmental problems, bear-ing in mind the social, political and economic effects of policy decisions."

"Right now I can see myself being a professor and maybe doing some private consulting on the side," she said. "I'm interested in research, but I like the way that you interact with people when you are a professor."

Tuthill, who has a sister at Ithaca College and a brother in high school, said her most cherished accomp-lishment at Colgate is "making my parents proud. They've given up so much for the three of us, and they've done everything they possibly could to get us where we are."

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