Photo by WSU Photo Services
Ten years ago, when finance professor George Jiang was looking for the next step in his academic career, the potential benefits of becoming the WSU Gary P. Brinson Endowed Chair in Investment Management were too enticing to pass up.
Endowed professorships and chairs are one of the highest honors a faculty member can achieve—a highly recognized accolade that signals a colleague is at the top of his or her field.
Jiang, an accomplished scholar and researcher of financial markets and information efficiency, knew the endowed chair would enable him to expand his research agenda, do more with doctoral students than ever before, and collaborate with elite faculty.
As a professor who’s helped hundreds of students prepare for finance careers, Jiang fit the vision global investing authority and philanthropist Gary Brinson (’68 MBA) had in mind when he established the chair in 1993. The endowment recognizes a faculty member who is an exemplary finance scholar, a student resource, a program and faculty leader, and a liaison to investment management community and service groups.
Jiang left his faculty position at the University of Arizona and joined the Carson College’s Department of Finance and Management Science. His wife, Linda, also joined the WSU accounting department at that time. “We loved the small town feel of the Pullman community,” says Jiang. “At WSU, there is a sense of shared identity and collaboration like none other.”
Brinson Chair provides unique graduate and undergraduate opportunities
The endowment extends the finance department’s ability to offer unique learning opportunities to both graduate and undergraduate students. For example, Jiang has used its funds to purchase several specialized research databases doctoral students need for their research—an exclusive benefit few universities offer because of the expense. The options trading data, which typically costs about $20,000, has supported several finance doctoral candidates’ research.
“OptionMetrics data was very helpful to me as a PhD student. I used it in every paper I wrote, including my dissertation. I would not have been able to do the research I did without it,” says Cuyler Strong (’20 Fin.), a financial economist fellow in the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s economic and risk analysis division. “I have continued to use the data and am one of the commission’s three OptionMetrics subject matter experts—any employee can reach out to me if they need help with the dataset.”
Finance juniors and seniors have the opportunity to participate in Cougs on Wall Street—a three-day international forum in New York featuring discussion panels, workshops, and keynote speakers. “Students enjoy it very much, and many get jobs as a result of the networking and professional development opportunities at the event,” Jiang says.
The endowment also supports annual distinguished lectures, and funds were used recently to partially support Bloomberg terminals within the Tom and Linda Nihoul Bloomberg Financial Laboratory. The terminals give students and faculty access to news, data, and other tools that are the “gold standard” within the industry. Finance majors can earn various Bloomberg certificates and gain research and analysis proficiencies—all of which will give them a competitive advantage in the job market, says Jiang.
“One of the most impactful benefits of the chair is helping our undergraduates interested in research,” says Jiang. “Because of the expanded opportunities I’ve had as the Brinson Chair, I’ve been able to expose students to research concepts that might guide their interest in finance careers. Our research helps investors and firms adapt to global transitions in financial markets and industry as we navigate through the pandemic toward a new economic environment.”
Supporting a legacy of scholarly and research excellence
Looking back over the last decade, David Whidbee, chair of the Finance and Management Science Department, says Jiang’s leadership as the Endowed Brinson Chair has elevated the Carson College’s overall finance research profile and improved its standing among peer schools. Though it was established 30 years ago, the chair ties directly to the college’s current goal of being the leading source of research-based insights and critical thinking about business.
Because of Brinson’s generosity, the quality, relevance, and distinction of the finance program will endure long into the future. In 2004, he made an additional gift of securities valued at more than half a million dollars to further support the endowed chair.
“By endowing a professorship or chair, you make it possible to attract and retain faculty, one of the college’s most important resources, and help the college become the top choice for business education in the Pacific Northwest,” says Whidbee.
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