The Proposal: Love and … Microeconomics?

Feb 5, 2014

by Cary McMullen | Publications Editor

Talk about “engaged learning.”

Some guys propose to their girlfriends at scenic or romantic spots around the FSC campus, like the Willis Garden of Meditation or the Landing. In what is likely a first here at FSC or possibly anywhere on the planet, Michael Wilson chose a microeconomics class to propose to his girlfriend, first-year student Bree Olson.

Dude, what were you thinking?

“I wanted the element of surprise, when she’d least expect it. The day before, I got the crazy idea to do it here at school. I wanted it to be someplace that was of major importance to her,” Wilson says.

He and Olson met at First Church of God in Plant City. They attended different high schools, so she borrowed his phone and entered her phone number into his address book. They’ve been dating for almost four years, talking every day.

When it came time for Olson to apply to college, she didn’t want to get too far away from Wilson, who has a job as youth pastor at a church in Plant City and teaches music. Her father drove her to Lakeland one day and showed her the FSC campus.

“We took a tour, and I fell in love with it. It was the only school I applied to,” she says.

The couple had talked about getting engaged, and Wilson decided to take the leap. On Jan. 24, he called Olson’s roommate, Bethany Rainwater, to check her class schedule. Olson’s noon class that day was microeconomics, taught by Dr. Pete Bias, professor of business. Wilson prepared a couple of PowerPoint slides, and just hours before the class, he called to ask if Bias would be willing to add them to his class presentation.

It was an unusual request, to be sure.

“I’ve been teaching for 30 years, and this is a new one. I’ve had students arrested but never engaged,” Bias joked. “I did ask him if he was sure he wanted to do this. What if she said no? He said, ‘I’ve got to take that chance. I think it’s going to be yes.’”

Wilson and Bias met about an hour before the class, and Bias suggested he add the slides at the end while Wilson waited outside the classroom.

“It was totally on the fly,” Wilson says.

Bias conducted his lecture as usual, running through about two dozen slides filled with equations and graphs on marginal utility and indifference curves. After finishing his slides, he threw up one that read, “There comes a time in life when everyone must ask an important question…” He asked Olson to come up to the front of the class, which was Wilson’s cue to enter, accompanied by Rainwater, who was recording the scene.

Olson was so confused at the sight of the two that at first she didn’t see the next slide Bias threw up. Framing a picture of the couple, it read, “Bree Olson…will you marry me?”

Wilson knelt under the projected slide and opened a jewelry box containing a ring.

“I was just like really shocked. I was laughing and crying,” Olson says.

But she said yes.

Wilson and Olson have not yet set a date. Her parents were surprised, she says, but “they’re happy for us.” The couple doesn’t have definite plans after they’re married, but Olson is majoring in business because it offers a lot of options.

 “If I have a business background, then we could work together,” she says.

The proposal just goes to show that romance isn’t confined to lush, beautiful settings. It can show up anywhere, even in a microeconomics class. Bias says he was amused by the scene and especially by the reaction of the other students.

“It was really cute. The girls in the class were gasping,” he says.