Gautam Kaul Named "Sustainability Pioneer"
Ross students recognize professor for introducing finance and sustainable enterprise course.
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Professor Gautam Kaul, the John C. and Sally S. Morley Professor of finance at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, recently was recognized by his students for launching a sustainable business course that focuses on the financial aspect of this emerging topic.
The Sustainability Pioneer Award honored Kaul for his efforts in adding the finance-focused sustainable enterprise course to the curriculum which, according to Nick Cucinelli, MBA '05, is a class that was long overdue.
"In the fall of 2003, while I was doing the core finance course with Gautam, I started wondering why there were no hard finance courses with a sustainability angle.
"We study the 'triple bottom line'—environment, ethics and economics—and yet we tend to pay very little attention to the financial aspects in this context," he said.
After Cucinelli conducted an independent study and worked with Kaul to compile an extensive reading list, the course was launched in January with 24 students. "It was a lot like a PhD course with hundreds of pages of reading per week and a lot of collaborative learning," Cucinelli said.
"It was an intense exercise in 'co-creation' and one of the most unusual intellectual experiences I've experienced," he added.
Kaul now has a second named chair: a plaque in his honor was installed on one of the chairs in the main auditorium of the Dana building—home of the University's School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE). The school recently completed a "green" renovation, including the addition of recycled chairs in the auditorium.
"SNRE is the focal point of sustainability research and teaching at the U-M, so it was appropriate to recognize this cutting-edge Ross course there," said Cucinelli.
Kaul says he would not have taught this course without the students' initiative. "I have learned more this past year than I have over the past several years," said Kaul. "It is an honor to be recognized for something that I should have done anyway."
Kaul will be teaching the course again in the fall. His research focuses on the behavior of stock and bond prices in the United States and other developed countries. His specific interests include asset pricing models, market microstructure and the time-series behavior of stock prices. He also has used computer-intensive methodologies to gauge the effectiveness of trading strategies commonly proposed on Wall Street and in academic literature.
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