Kellogg World Alumni Magazine, Summer 2004Kellogg School of Management
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Q&A: Kellogg World recently spoke with Prof. Raviv to reflect upon his quarter-century of scholarship and teaching at the Kellogg School.

Kellogg World: How did you first become interested in finance?

Artur 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?

AR: 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?

AR: 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?

AR: 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?

AR: 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.

AR: 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 do?

AR: 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.

Another 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.

I am 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.

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University