A day in the life: Tim Mahoney

James Vaughn

It’s 5:30 a.m. Campus is dead. The parking lots are empty for a change. Not a soul is in sight. Blistering winds and snow falling under the dim lights in March are about the only interesting things about USI on this early Monday morning – except for the fact that Timothy Mahoney has already begun his work day.

The doors to the Business and Engineering Center don’t automatically unlock until 6 a.m., but that doesn’t stop Mahoney from preparing for the day’s classes.

Once he sets everything down in his office, he proceeds to turn on all the lights in the College of Business.

“This is my morning routine,” he said as he flipped the light switches.

He reads the Wall Street Journal from front to back in the room next door to his office.

“That is one of the best buys I’ve made,” Mahoney said, pointing to a stand-up table. “It’s not good to sit at a desk a lot, so I can read and grade things a lot better at that table.”

He said he enjoys the print version of the Journal, but he also likes the electronic version because if he reads something he thinks a student or faculty member on his email list might like, he can share it with them.

Mahoney has been with the university since 1988.

He said he’s had a pretty similar routine for those 25 years – a routine that doesn’t end at reading the newspaper.

At 7 a.m. every day, Mahoney swims in the campus pool located in the Physical Activities Center.

“It’s good exercise,” he said. “It’s a great way to wake up and a great way to start to the day. It gives me a chance to clear my head and come up with some ideas for class.”

On his way to the pool, he walks past the Teaching Theatre construction site.

“It’s kind of fun walking past this place every day,” he said. “You get to see it go up.”

He swims on Sundays and during the summer as well, which means he has swam almost every day since he was hired at USI.

“We all sort of pick sports we’re comfortable with,” he said. “It’s been a lifelong activity and unlike a lot of sports, I can enjoy it at any time.”

After a 30-minute swim and a shower, Mahoney heads back to his office. As he makes his way back, he has a friendly hello for most passerbys.

At 8 a.m., his door opens to meet with students.

His Fundamentals of Economics course begins at 10 a.m.

After about 20 minutes of discussing the Wall Street Journal, he gets to his lesson for the day.

“When you start to read more and more things, the world opens up to a lot more,” he said to the class of 56 students.

The class gets a quick break from bonds, stocks and mutual funds when the navigation system on a student’s phone interrupts.

“Are you getting a message from outer space?” Mahoney joked. The students laughed.

Following his second class at noon, he meets with students for the rest of the afternoon. He talks to them about various things, from scheduling courses to discussing an assignment to evaluating personal finances.

“I have one student coming in today to talk about his 401K,” Mahoney said. “He’s working for a local company and he’s confused about some things.”

Sophomore finance major Marcus Richards said Mahoney helped him switch majors.

“I met with him a few times, and he got me set up,” Richards said.

Richards said he went to him for advice because five people referred him to Mahoney.

“When I went there, there was a line of about seven other students, and he still made time for me within about 15 minutes,” Richards said. “I just go to my adviser now, but I’d recommend him to anyone.”

He gives Mahoney a nine on a 10-point scale.

Mahoney left a lasting impression on Danielle Norris, who graduated from USI with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Spanish and international studies in 2011.

“(Mahoney’s classes) had practical applications to my life,” Norris said. “Reading the Wall Street Journal was a highlight for me. Mr. Mahoney used it to demonstrate how what’s going on in the world can affect our economic situation.”

She took the class in 2008, which is when the housing crisis began, the DOW plummeted and bail-out talks began.

“It was an interesting time to be studying economics,” Norris said.

Before beginning graduate school, Norris worked full-time at Berry Plastics, where she opened a 401K. When she left the company, she rolled it over into a traditional IRA fund, which consists of a group of mutual funds.

“Mahoney’s class was the closest thing to a financial literacy course I’d taken,” Norris said. “I wouldn’t know a stock from a mutual fund if it weren’t for his class.”

She said she feels that everyone should take his class or something similar to it.

“It is as important to liberal arts students like myself as it is to business students,” Norris said. “Even if you are certain you’ll find a well-paying job that you love right out of college, chances are you won’t have the funds to hire someone to manage your finances right away.”