World recently spoke with Prof. Raviv to reflect upon
his quarter-century of scholarship and teaching at the Kellogg
World: How did you first become interested in finance?
Raviv: Through my economics research, which dealt with
issues of incentives and imperfect information, elements that
others suddenly found had great relevance for finance. Finance
is all about information and incentives, so it was a small
switch for me to come to finance from my economics research.
KW: What was the strategy used to revamp the Finance Department
when you returned to Kellogg?
We began to hire faculty from economics departments because
we felt we could get a higher caliber of scholar, while at
the same time avoiding direct competition with top finance
schools. The idea was to go sideways.
KW: What do you still find compelling about your work,
and what keeps things fresh for you?
Teaching and research both bring continuously fresh challenges
and innovation. Teaching is changing all the time, so you
have to come up with new ideas and approaches. It keeps you
on your toes. On the research side, when you're hiring bright
young colleagues you have to compete with them. [laughs]
KW: So life doesn't stop after earning tenure?
Even after tenure you're trying to maintain your productivity.
Actually, you get more ambitious through time. You know you
can publish, but you feel compelled to make a major contribution
to the discipline.
KW: Looking over your curriculum vita, what achievements
are most gratifying for you?
On the teaching side it's easy: each one of the awards I've
earned from my students.
KW: There is an impressive number of awards on your wall.
The joke was that I was trying to get a bigger office to display
them all. [laughs] Another nice achievement, I think, is looking
back at the so-called ėturbo' courses in finance [Ed. note:
TurboFinance is an accelerated class that combines the material
from Finance 430 and Finance 441]. I was the father of that.
About 1988, some students came to me as chair of the department
looking for a greater challenge. So I scheduled myself for
this extra course. We had 50 students sign up initially. As
a result of this initiative, the quality of teaching and the
quality of students improved.
KW: It's no secret that you are a popular professor. How
do you connect with your students to achieve the results you
First of all, I watch their eyes to see if they're following
the material. The reward comes when you see the light go on
and the students understand. There's this constant challenge
to make the material clear.
thing I do is repeat everything three times. If students get
it one way, great. If they don't learn it that way, then they'll
get it the second or third way. The big challenge is to keep
everybody engaged, even those who understood the material
the first time I explained it.
also a strong believer in the synergies between teaching and
research. Merely staying one chapter ahead of the students
is not what we're doing here. The depth of knowledge that
we can convey in the classroom only comes with rigorous research
that gives a deep understanding and appreciation for the material.