Annette Poulsen, the Sterne Chair of Banking and Finance in the Terry College of Business, enjoys teaching a broad spectrum of students—from undergraduates in their first semester to graduate students in MBA, Executive MBA and Ph.D. programs.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I received a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Washington State University and a Ph.D. in economics from Ohio State University. I hold the Augustus H. “Billy” Sterne Chair of Banking and Finance in the Terry College of Business. In addition to my teaching and research responsibilities, I was the finance department head for 10 years and currently serve as the Ph.D. coordinator for the department.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I came to UGA in 1987. Before returning to academia, I was at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C., where I was the acting chief economist involved in policy decisions related to securities regulation. My husband, Jeff Netter, joined UGA’s faculty a year later, also in the finance department. UGA and Athens have been great matches for us—both in terms of our careers and as a place to raise our two sons.
What are your favorite courses and why?
I have taught a broad spectrum of students at UGA, from those in their first semester in First-Year Odyssey seminars to those in their last semester in our capstone finance class. I have also taught in our MBA, Executive MBA and Ph.D. programs. At every level, it is enjoyable to get to know my students and to hear about their backgrounds and their hopes for the future. It is difficult to pick a favorite course of all time, but probably my current favorite is my class in which students manage an actual investment portfolio. The students analyze the market, make stock purchase and sale decisions, and report on their performance to a supervisory board of alumni and to the UGA Foundation. I also enjoy teaching Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO) seminars, introducing students to the research process and encouraging them in their own independently designed projects. And, of course, I loved teaching in the UGA at Oxford program last summer.
What interests you about your field?
Financial markets are key to the allocation of capital for businesses and individuals. My research focuses on how firms use financial markets to fund their various activities, especially in the area of mergers and acquisitions. In addition, raising capital is closely related to corporate governance, another of my research areas. Finance is fundamental to any business decision. I begin every class by opening a financial news website and having a discussion about what’s going on in the markets that day. Topics can range from merger announcements to the Greek debt crisis, the latest decisions by the Federal Reserve Board, securities fraud, financial market practices, initial public offerings and more. There’s never a dull news day in the world of finance.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
It is definitely a highlight of any academic career to be appointed to an endowed research chair. I have held the Sterne Chair since 1994 and have greatly appreciated the additional opportunities it has provided me. I also have been honored to receive all three of the top awards of the Terry College of Business, which recognize outstanding research, teaching and service. I am pleased that I have been able to contribute to Terry and UGA in all three of the traditional aspects of academia.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
Research and teaching are inevitably closely related. My research enriches our classroom discussions because I can help students have a deeper understanding of the issues being covered. In turn, student questions and insights lead me to think about new research questions.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
I hope that my students leave my classes with an appreciation for the intricacies of the markets and a sense of wonder at how all actors in the markets work together to facilitate capital-raising for firms and individuals.
Describe your ideal student.
My ideal student is not necessarily the smartest one in the room—though he or she may be. My ideal student is the student who sincerely wants to understand finance—the student who stays after class to tell me about a work experience that corresponds to what we just covered; the student who emails me a story to share with the class; the student who contributes frequently to class discussions; the student who questions my assumptions and leads me to think about my perspectives on financial markets. The best thing about teaching is that the people on the other side of the room from me are usually between 18 and 22 years old. How can you not enjoy being surrounded by young people wanting to learn more about their chosen discipline and excited about their futures?
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
The most beautiful spot on campus is the Trial Gardens behind the pharmacy building on South Campus. When I run on campus, I always make sure my route takes me to the gardens.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
I like to travel and I like to run, and I like combining the two. Wherever I travel, I make sure I fit in a run to see the local area, whether at Peking University, in New York’s Central Park or around the Roman Coliseum. My running friends and I ran the Paris Marathon last April—it was an awesome experience!
Community/civic involvement includes….
Most of my community involvement has been related to our sons’ activities. I served as the treasurer for both the Athens United Soccer Association and the Oconee Futbol Club while my sons were playing soccer. My husband and I are currently on the Parents Advisory Board for our sons’ university.
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
I enjoy reading history books, especially those related to places where I have traveled or will be traveling. One of my all-time favorite books is “The Seven Ages of Paris” by Alistair Horne. My most recently finished book is “Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and her Daughter Mary Shelley”by Charlotte Gordon. Wollstonecraft is often described as one of the first female intellectuals and Mary Shelley, probably best known as the author of “Frankenstein,” continued her mother’s tradition of independent thinking and living. Gordon’s description of the late 1700s and early 1800s in England and Italy is truly remarkable. I just took “A History of the Arab Peoples” by Albert Hourani off my bookshelf as my next book to read since I have been invited to attend a conference in Saudi Arabia next spring.
Proudest moment at UGA?
I love joining the finance students in the waiting area before Terry Convocation each spring. Their pride in their achievements and their excitement as they wait to enter Stegeman Coliseum is really fun to be around. I’m proud of how the faculty of the Terry College and UGA have helped prepare the graduates for their futures, and I look forward to hearing about the successes of our students as they develop their careers. Graduation is such a happy day for the students and their families.
Originally published Aug. 16, 2015