“Some knowledge in basic economics and business tradeoffs is necessary no matter what industry or area of life you are in,” says assistant professor of finance Vineet Bhagwat.
That’s just one reason why he enjoys being one of the professors teaching Finance 316: Financial Management, a core course all business majors are required to take.
“I enjoy it because I get to interact with a wide variety of students since all majors have to take the class at some point,” said Bhagwat, who also teaches the honors version of the same course. “Chances are I’ve taught one-third to half of the students in the building at any given time, so I feel like I have a pulse of the students.”
Finance 316 concerns the basics of how any business or individual should make a framework for decisions with money.
“It doesn’t have to be some dry, textbook stuff,” he said. “Car loans, mortgages—these are actual scenarios that students—all of us—need to know how to navigate. I think it’s overlooked or not properly appreciated.”
And when it comes to helping students appreciate finance while making it fun, Bhagwat is a master, having secured the college’s Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2015 with effusive praise from students.
“Vineet Bhagwat is the best professor I have ever worked with,” offered Madison Cole ’17. “He was extremely available to students and dedicated to their success. Vineet brings in real-world material and keeps class interesting. I have never encountered a professor who better understood how to organize and teach a class.”
Josh Bryant ’17 echoed the sentiment: “Vineet’s class is regularly regarded as one of the most enjoyable. He has a special ability to connect with students and be entertaining in class while demonstrating mastery of teaching skills and refined financial knowledge. He is an outstanding professor and my personal favorite in the Lundquist College.”
Bhagwat completed his PhD at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 2012. After interviews in London, Washington D.C., and other locations, he decided Lundquist was the best fit and started at the University of Oregon that same year.
“The department was supportive, collegial, and very involved in research,” he said. “I felt the environment here was most helpful for a rookie graduate. Colleagues are willing to step up to the plate and help in providing support and feedback.”
Such support is helping Bhagwat make and impact with his research as well. His study with Gennaro Bernile and P. Raghavendra Rau, “What Doesn’t Kill You Will Only Make You More Risk-Loving: Early-Life Disasters and CEO Behavior,” gained traction with many news outlets, including Bloomberg Businessweek.
His current research with Scott Yonker of Cornell University and Gennaro Bernile of Singapore Management University, examines the diversity of corporate board members and how that impacts decision making.
“We use gender, race, and age, but we expand the diversity question to also include where the individual received their undergraduate education, their financial expertise, and their experience serving on other boards,” Bhagwat said.
A second study examines how taxes affect incentive for firms to merge. His coauthors are Lundquist College assistant professor of finance Xiaoding Liu and Julian Atanassov, a former assistant professor at Lundquist now with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
When asked about a unifying theme around his teaching and research, Bhagwat said it all boils down to tradeoffs because the subject matter applies to nearly all people in so many areas of their lives.
“My job as an educator in finance is uniquely positioned to teach how to think about tradeoffs quantitatively and how you can balance those tradeoffs,” he said. “I think that’s an aspect I like the most; I can tie it in with almost any news story. Whether you go into business, politics, or are a stay-at-home parent, there is always some tradeoff you are facing. You need to be able to properly evaluate those tradeoffs.”