The Sunk Cost Lesson Stuck

On Friday, the president of the Naval Postgraduate School, Dr. Ann E. Rondeau, announced that Captain Raymond (“Pancho”) Barnes, Military Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Defense Management (the new name for the school I taught at before retiring in 2017) is leaving his position for a new Navy posting. I haven’t met him during his tour because the in-person part of the School is pretty skimpy and so my biweekly visits to my former colleagues haven’t happened for about a year. But I’ve often enjoyed his emails to the faculty, which include the emeritus faculty.

So I emailed him Friday to wish him well, even though, I said, I hadn’t met him. Well, it turns out that I had. I received this email back.

Prof. Henderson,

Oddly enough, if we go back to Winter Quarter 2005, you were my GE3070 instructor during quarter two of my EMBA [Executive MBA.] I thoroughly enjoyed that course (and your instructional methods), so much so that it is honestly but one of the few courses I actually remember. Economics has always been an interest of mine (if my wife hears me talk about sunk costs one more time during a movie, I think she will divorce me), especially as it relates to everyday life. I particularly enjoy Stephen Dubner’s “Freakonomics” podcast; very interesting and entertaining content.

Thanks for the note; it has been a great tour at NPS. All the best to you as well.




I love it when students remember, and apply, important things I taught them over a decade ago.


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Author: David Henderson

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