What is your educational background?
PhD in Finance (Texas A&M University, 2012)
Master of International Business Studies (University of South Carolina, 1997)
Bachelor of Arts in International Studies (ACU, 1991)
What is your work background?
Before getting my PhD, I worked for 13 years in various finance-related jobs at Dell, EDS (now part of HP), Swiss Bank Corporation–Germany (now part of UBS Germany), and Agency Management Services (now Vertafore). For these jobs we have lived in Round Rock, Plano, and College Station, Texas; Wellington, New Zealand; Frankfurt, Germany; and Rochester, New York. My wife can fill you in on the details and number of all our moves. (I need an emoticon here.)
What do you teach at ACU?
I usually teach courses in Personal Financial Planning (open to students of all majors) as well as Investments (usually for financial management or accounting majors). I have also taught a course in International Finance for study abroad, and I recently co-taught a graduate course called “Biblical Perspectives on Stewardship.”
What committees/other duties do you have at ACU aside from teaching?
I am on two research committees, one for COBA and one for ACU. I also try to visit with prospective students and answer their questions about COBA and ACU when they visit campus. Throughout the semesters and during the summer I try to carve out some time to move my research along. Finally, one of my favorite roles is helping coordinate “ACUFIFA,” which is a group of faculty, staff, and students who play football (i.e., soccer) twice a week. We often field one or two intramural teams each semester as well.
What drew you to teaching? Why did you want to work with students?
Teaching is in the blood in my family: my great-grandfather, grandfather, and father have all taught students in secondary or higher education. Initially I had no plans to follow in their footsteps and pursued a career in business. Over time, however, my desire to do deeper research and to help students understand more about business, finance in particular, led me to follow a call to further education and a career in teaching and research. A handful of mentors in my life (including former COBA Dean Rick Lytle) also encouraged me to make that decision.
What’s the best part of working with students?
Working with students means that no two days are ever the same. I love to learn, and as any teacher knows, there is no better way to learn than to teach. I learn from students as well. When students are open to it, I really appreciate the discussions and relationships that can form among us inside and outside of the classroom as we seek to learn and grow.
Have you ever given up any big opportunities to keep working with students?
My biggest (and my family’s biggest) sacrifice came in the middle of my finance career when I quit a good job with Dell in 2007, we sold our house, and we moved to College Station in order for me to embark on a five-year PhD degree with little income. It was a tough experience on all of us, and more than once I had second thoughts about the plan.
Outside of teaching, what passions and hobbies do you have?
I spend a lot of time with my family. My wife and I have two daughters, a 15-year-old and an 8-year-old. My parents now live in Abilene also, and we often try to visit with my in-laws from Corpus Christi, Texas. Our family loves to travel, both domestically and internationally, and we sometimes go camping. Our church life is important to us as well.
I like to play soccer (both indoor and outdoor); I’m currently on the “Ten Plagues” intramural team. In the past I also enjoyed racquetball and squash. I enjoy going to concerts of many different kinds, but I don’t go as often as I’d like.
What is a good, early story about your teaching?
I was blessed to hear back from a student I had in my very first semester at ACU. He took my Personal Financial Planning class, then graduated and moved to another state for his first full-time job. He wrote me back a couple of months later and told me how specific topics and assignments had been a blessing to him in his new career. I always appreciate hearing back from students.
Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
Although you may mean my current career, I am going to reach back to a career I had much longer than this one. There is something about a shared, difficult experience that bonds people together. When I worked for EDS in New Zealand, I was on a project team that was bidding on a 10-year, $800 million contract to manage Telecom NZ’s information technology infrastructure. I was on the finance team that was running all the numbers, putting all the pieces together and rolling it into the high-level proposal. We were on conference calls at weird hours of the night with senior management (due to time zone differences) and often stayed very late other nights. It was the most intense work I have ever done, but it was also great to work with a team like that. EDS won the contract and I was able to stick around for a few more months as the deal became reality. Although I would not be physically and emotionally able to work like that for long periods of time, it was an incredible, fun, and satisfying experience.
Do you do any charity or non-profit work?
I am the treasurer for our widows’ and widowers’ ministry at church, and I am on the stewardship team (elsewhere known as the “budget committee”). My wife and I lead middle school small groups on Sundays. This summer the whole family will be volunteering for a few days at Best Friends Animal Society in Utah. (I confess that I am the least excited of the group.)
Who is your role model, and why?
While I want to be Christ-like more than anything else, I have a composite role model: I want to emulate certain things about some very important people in my life.
Who was your most inspirational professor and why?
Two in particular come to mind. I had Physics with Mr. Steve Mathis my senior year in high school in Edmond, Oklahoma. He made the subject so incredibly fun and interesting that I came to ACU as an Engineering Physics major. (I later changed majors after getting tired of studying electrons.) He was extremely knowledgeable and demanding but at the same time was very humble and likeable. It probably helped that I was (and am) in complete awe of the power of physics as a discipline.
The next year as a freshman at ACU, I had Dr. Tony Ash for “Life and Teachings of Jesus.” I had never experienced the gospels in the way that he taught them. I found it exhilarating. He also spent a lot of time going through information about each student at the beginning of each class. He did his best to find some special connection with each student: “I had your aunt in class.” “I used to preach in Podunk, Texas. Did you know Betty Wilson there?” That was amazing also.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
The kind of answer I might have come up with as a 12-year-old still seems appealing: I’d like the power to be able to switch superpowers at will. Maybe I’d like to be able to fly today, but tomorrow I might want to be invisible. The day after that I might want to be able to keep everyone in a warm room just after lunch from falling asleep. (Purely hypothetical, of course!)
What is something that students might be surprised to find out about you?
I really enjoyed playing the tuba in high school and college. I was in All-State Band and All-State Orchestra in high school, and I was in the Big Purple and the Abilene Intercollegiate Orchestra in college. One of these days I wouldn’t mind getting back into it, if I can find the time.
What would you really want students and alums to know about you?
Although ACU is much different today than when I chose to come here as a student in 1987, I still appreciate ACU and what it stands for. I love working with the students here and I have never enjoyed working with colleagues more than I do here.