Wolf receives Clemson Alumni Master Teacher Award

CLEMSON – Clemson University students have chosen Dr. Jack G. Wolf the Alumni Master Teacher for 2015. Wolf is an associate professor of finance in the College of Business and Behavioral Science (CBBS).

Clemson University Associate Professor of Finance Dr. Jack G. Wolf receives the 2015 Alumni Master Teacher Award.
Clemson University Associate Professor of Finance Dr. Jack G. Wolf receives the 2015 Alumni Master Teacher Award.
“I am completely surprised by my selection this year and very honored,” Wolf said. “To be honest, many of my students consider my courses to be very challenging. The reason is that I decided long ago that if I wanted my students to be successful in their jobs after they graduate, I needed to set expectations, especially in my senior-level course, similar to what their supervisors in their first job would have.”

A fascination with space might seem completely unrelatable to the world of finance, but for Wolf the two disparate interests fit quite nicely together, and add a unique angle to his teaching style.

Wolf said he grew up wanting to know how things worked.

“Perhaps I should have been an engineer,“ he said, “but like many other kids, outer space fascinated me. I even worked as a counselor at Space Camp while I was in college. But when I finished my degree in astronomy and physics, my interest had waned somewhat. I still wanted to do something analytical and, to me at the time, finance was the most numbers-oriented of the business fields.

“The training I received in the sciences really taught me to think methodically, and knowing that cause precedes effect is just as important in finance as it is in physics. There are times in class where I fall back and use analogies that may seem more like physics. When we discuss what makes some bonds more sensitive to interest rate changes, it is a hard concept for the students to grasp just looking at a formula written on the board.

“Getting them to think about a pendulum made from a rope with knots tied into it makes it easier to understand because the students can visualize what’s going on. They can see how making the knot at the bottom bigger will affect how much the pendulum will swing. Then I can point to parts of the formula so that they can see the connection to what they pictured in their head.”

The Alumni Master Teacher Award for outstanding undergraduate classroom instruction is presented to the faculty member nominated by the student body and selected by the Student Alumni Council.

Clemson University Associate Professor of Finance Dr. Jack G. Wolf receives the 2015 Alumni Master Teacher Award.
Clemson University Associate Professor of Finance Dr. Jack G. Wolf receives the 2015 Alumni Master Teacher Award.
“Dr. Wolf was chosen because he genuinely cares about his students achieving excellence in and out of the classroom,” said Sterling Lecy, vice president of the Clemson Blue Key Honor Society. “He consistently goes the extra mile to make sure Clemson’s business program is producing top candidates for post-graduate opportunities and devotes his own time to understanding the intersection between theory and practice that is so often overlooked.”

Many recent financial management graduates return to campus as recruiters for their new employers.

“I hear from many of them about how they found financial modeling to be one of the most useful courses that they took at Clemson,” said Wolf. “I don’t think it is strictly because of the topics covered; many of these companies cover the same technical aspects in the training program that new employees go through. Instead, the students learn how to act like a professional because they are treated as one. This eases the transition from student to professional and gives the students a head start.”

Wolf graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts degree in astronomy and physics in 1991, and he earned a Master degree in business administration at Wake Forest University in 1993. He received his Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Utah in 2000 and started teaching corporate finance at Clemson the same year.

He has received numerous awards, including the 2009 CBBS Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award, the 2000 Western Finance Association Best Corporate Finance Paper Award, the 1998 David Eccles Doctoral Teaching Excellence Award, and he was named the Cote Faculty Fellow for Research and Scholarship Excellence in 2005.

Wolf lives in Clemson with his wife, Angela Morgan (who is also a finance professor at Clemson) and his son, Ryan.

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