Faculty John McDermott and Ying Zhang win top awards from Fairfield University's Dolan School of Business


Image: Dolan School of Business awardsWhen he's not teaching Fairfield University business students about high stakes investing, John McDermott, Ph.D., is busy applying those lessons to his scholarship and advising financial firms managing billions in client assets.

Dr. McDermott, of East Lyme, Conn., associate professor of finance at the Charles F. Dolan School of Business, was recently honored with the Excellence in Teaching Award, voted on annually by students. Students provide statements on why they think a particular faculty member deserves to be nominated, based on their alignment with the school's mission, ability to engage students dynamically, and embodiment of Jesuit values.

"One of his best attributes is his ability to seamlessly relate the theory being discussed in the classroom to real life problems," said Brian Devenney, the Rev. John M. Conlisk Irish Scholar who has taken two classes with Dr. McDermott - financial modeling and corporate finance. "His charisma and passion for teaching are very evident by the lack of dull moments in his classroom... He is very supportive of students, always encouraging and offering great advice wherever he can."

One student wrote that Dr. McDermott encourages all students to participate in class and to seek extra help when needed. "[He] takes an interest in his students and encourages success both inside and outside of the classroom," said the student.

To that point, in April he took a group of students to the RISE Finance Forum, an internationally renowned student investment conference, and he's shared his expertise at public events like the Charles F. Dolan Lecture. He's Chief Investment Strategist of Symmetry Partners in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Extensively published, his research areas include market microstructure, market liquidity, information asymmetry, and index reconstitution effects.

"Professor McDermott really exemplifies what a Dolan School of Business professor is all about: engagement with students, bringing the latest finance trends into the classroom, and cutting-edge research," said Donald E. Gibson, Ph.D., dean of the Dolan School. "John's work with the Student Managed Investment Fund - investing $230,000 of the University's endowment - is a great example of how his expertise is combined with practical, impactful experiences for students."

Before academia, McDermott was a member of the United States Coast Guard. He earned a B.S. from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, an MBA from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut.

Image: Dolan School of Business awardsThe Dolan School's Outstanding Research Paper of the year went to Ying Zhang, Ph.D., assistant professor of finance, for "What Explains the Investment Growth Anomaly?" It was published in The Journal of Banking & Finance, and co-written by Wikrom Prombutr and Chanwit Phengpis, both faculty of California State University, Long Beach.

"We observed higher returns on stocks of the firms with lower growth in capital expenditures," said Dr. Zhang. "This is an investment anomaly and hardly can be explained by classical finance theories. In this paper we try to find the determinants of such anomaly."

Dr. Zhang researches investments, asset pricing, behavioral finance, and portfolio management. His papers have explored how the Internet can impact the financial markets, among many other issues. He earned a B.S. in Finance from JiNan University in Guangzhou, China. His advanced degrees include a M.S. in Information System Management and a Ph.D. in Finance with a minor in real estate from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Images: Two Finance faculty members at the Dolan School of Business received major awards this year. (L-R) 1) Thomas J. Fanning, Sr. '78, of the Dolan School's Advisory Council; John McDermott, Ph.D.; and Donald E. Gibson, Ph.D., dean of the Dolan School. 2) Thomas J. Fanning, Sr. '78; Ying Zhang, Ph.D.; and Dr. Gibson.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on June 4, 2013

Vol. 45, No. 299