From before I even had a class with Professor Helms freshman year, I heard all about the eccentric professor who ran all over his classroom and canceled class for two weeks when his dog went missing. I knew right then that this guy I had never met was going to be my favorite economics professor here at WC.
From his bright, smiling face and his ever enthusiastic “hellooooo” to start each class, students felt at ease learning about very hard and intangible concepts. On the first day of class he turned to us and said, “Just call me Andy.” He was probably the most “normal guy” you could ever meet but that was part of his charm.
Professor Adi Mayer introduced Professor Helms as “a man who was born to teach micro,” which was a very esteemed title to live up to, but he did every day. Having him write “see me after class” on the top corner of your paper was never a bad thing as he just wanted to make sure that you were learning to the best of your ability and he wanted to help in any way possible.
His teaching style incorporated so much of his life into the material. We learned about the corn market in Illinois from his time studying there for his masters degrees; how taxiing in Chicago taught him about limitations to markets and operating costs; how his aunt’s rent-controlled apartment in New York protected citizens from the dangers of gentrification; to the “best Amish breakfast you will ever have” at the Crumpton Sale auction in Crumpton; and an ex-girlfriend who showed how auction theory really worked; to finally, his dog’s strict preferences and indifference curves to different treats.
For someone who shared so much of his life with his students, it was easy to talk to him about anything. His absence this past semester left a hole in the heart of the department for many students as they wondered when he would come back to shine his light upon us. I, personally, asked Adi Mayer weekly, “When is Andy Helms coming back?” because so many of my friends and I were left eagerly awaiting his return.
Andy Helms was someone who always found the good in things. He talked about his masters and PhD programs in Illinois being taught at “the most depressing place on earth” in which half the student body dropped out for seasonal depression, but he loved it. Everyone time it downpoured and high winds shook the walls of William Smith 336, he’d take a deep breath and happily proclaim, “I love this weather.”
We can all learn a few things about how Andy Helms approached life. He will be dearly missed by family, friends, faculty, administration, students, and vintage clothing shop owners all around.
Amy Rudolph, junior
Dr. Helms was the type of person who left an impression. He was always so upbeat and excited about economics and this was reflected in his teaching as he bounced around at the front of the classroom covered in chalk dust of multiple colors.
With most courses you fall into a routine. The first day or two is new and exciting and easy, but for the rest of the semester you show up, you learn, and you leave. Helms’s courses were the exception. He always found a way to make complicated, and even sometimes dry, material new and exciting as if it were the first day of class. I remember leaving every class thinking, “Did that actually just happen? Was that actually a class I just sat through?”
One way he left an impression was through his anecdotes expressed in class and worksheets, which were silly and memorable, but they helped me learn. Even the following year when I became an economics tutor for the Office of Academic Skills, his students would sometimes come to me for help on the homework problems and we would always take a moment to admire the stories told in the problems, which were different and often funnier than when I had him.
Liz Rafala, Senior
Personally, I will remember Professor Helms as quite the quirky professor to say the least. If you ever took a course he taught, no doubt you would have experienced him handing out his signature multicolored pens as he raved about how superior they were to take notes with.
Professor Helms was one hundred percent a dog person, and he would often bring up his golden retriever in his lectures. I met his dog a couple times in his office, and he would even bring his dog to class on occasion. I’m convinced that dog really was his best friend.
Everyone loved Professor Helms, and everyone will remember him differently. He was the kind of person who you couldn’t get a good read on and never really knew what to expect. He was jittery and random. He was unique. I will always respect Professor Helms for his unique quirkiness.
I will always remember his tangents in class where he would stop teaching and talk about things like his experiences at flea markets, how he enjoyed the feel of caulking his cousin’s floor, how it was like to be a taxi driver in graduate school, or his thoughts on a bizarre food that he tried.
Professor Helms is a person who stands out in your life. He is someone who you meet and never forget. He was earnest, loved what he taught, and enjoyed being around his students. Professor Helms had an innate ability to simply make those around him feel better. He positively impacted the lives of so many students here at Washington College, and it is hard to come to terms with the fact that he passed away recently.
I will miss Professor Helms so much, and I am sure that everyone else who knew him will too. He died young, and while it could be said that his life was too short, it was most certainly a full one. Professor Helms was an inspirational professor, and I am so grateful to have had the pleasure of being one of his students.
Corey Pippin, Senior
I took both intro and intermediate microeceonomics with Dr. Helms. Economics is sometimes called the dismal science, but you wouldn’t know it taking a class with Dr. Helms. His enthusiasm for teaching was part of the reason I declared economics as my major. He will be sorely missed.
Simon Checknoff, Junior
Not only was Dr. Helms a great professor, he was also just a great person. It was obvious that he was extremely passionate about economics and he showed that passion through his teaching. He was always willing to help students outside of class. He was one of the best professors I’ve had at this school and his death is a huge loss to our community at Washington College.
Debashish Goenka, Senior