Investing Students with Financial Skills
by— Geri Radacsi
Growing up in Jordan, Joseph Farhat loved mathematics, and he embraced his teacher’s advice to think of numbers not as static but as “talking” things. Today, as Associate Professor of Finance in the School of Business, he expands upon that lesson. He urges students to understand what numbers are saying about the workings of financial markets and the financing of companies; about how money is borrowed, managed, and invested; about the value of stock; and about why companies merge.
While his natural bent has always been toward the analytical and quantitative, Farhat’s teaching is firmly rooted not only in a passion for his discipline—finance—but in caring about students. He says, “I’ve found during my years of teaching that students who feel cared for are more motivated, engaged in learning, and encouraged to overcome academic problems.”
Farhat manifests his caring in concrete and creative ways, sometimes by using technology in the classroom. Most recently he was selected as the 2011 university-level CSUS Trustees Teaching Award recipient. (See page 17 for more information on this award.) He was praised for, among other things, “using the web to promote experiential and collaborative learning and for
creating an online repository for case studies that gives students an opportunity to publish their projects and web-based tutorials and simulations.”
Tina Maria Pereira ’09, a financial advisor associate with Asset Strategies, Inc., explains, “Dr. Farhat created financial calculator video tutorials. He had a website with a virtual financial calculator to help us learn how to use it (very, very helpful).”
Fellow CCSU graduate Miralem Cecunjanin ’09 successfully completed the Chartered Financial Analyst Level I exam this past December.The CFA designation has become the most respected and recognized investment credential in the world. Cecunjanin says, “There are hundreds of formulas to remember. The exam is timed, taking eight hours. Dr. Farhat taught me not only the theory, but how to take the exam, manage the time, and analyze and solve ‘tricky’ questions and problems. Without his help I wouldn’t have been able to pass the CFA exam.”
A teaching aid Farhat uses to emphasize experiential learning is his website— www.FinanceCt.net—which provides students with current financial data and financial news related to the classes he is teaching.
With the support of the Department of Finance, Farhat initiated the Finance Preparatory Program (FPP) in 2009. He explains, “As a response to industry demand, the FPP aims to enhance job-readiness of our finance majors for entry into the financial industry and to ensure a better alignment between pre-employment training and the skills that financial-sector employers expect from new graduates. Mainly, my goal is to provide students with the analytical skills (which are not covered in traditional class settings) they need to succeed in the financial industry.”
As part of the FPP, Farhat has volunteered to conduct advanced financial Excel workshops. Furthermore as Patrick Arrigoni ’10, now a senior financial analyst in Corporate Finance at The Travelers, relates, Farhat’s Financial Modeling course was valuable because of its concentration on Excel. “I learned the true potential of the software and its application,” he says. “In the interview for my present job, I discussed the course and I think my hands-on experience helped set me apart.” He remarks, “I will remember Dr. Farhat as the teacher who always wanted to do more.”
“One Step Ahead in the Competitive Financial Job Market”
Erik Lecco, a senior who graduated in May, says of the upper-level Financial Derivatives course, “We employed our knowledge of derivatives by using Stock-Track, an online mock trading platform where we utilized derivative trading strategies in a real-time setting. Such ‘learning by doing,’ puts students one step ahead in the competitive job market for entry-level financial positions. Dr. Farhat put us in the chair of a financial manager, asking us to approach the problem from a managerial perspective. This gave students a good idea of what to expect in a professional setting.”
Farhat, who has repeatedly been on CCSU’s Excellence in Teaching Honor Roll and was a finalist this year, has been expanding his own knowledge in his discipline. He holds a PhD in financial economics, with a specialization in corporate finance and investments from the University of New Orleans; a master’s from the University of Jordan; and a bachelor’s from the Zagazig University, Egypt (both in economics). Prior to joining CCSU in 2006, Farhat taught finance at Southern Connecticut State University, and he held a number of teaching positions in Jordan.
Farhat is the founder and the editor of the Banking and Finance Review (BFR), a bi-annual, peer-reviewed international research journal that provides a publication outlet for theoretical as well as empirical issues in the fields of banking and finance. Pursuing research interests in corporate finance, banking, and quantitative finance, he has been published in a dozen professional journals.
Pereira remarks, “Dr. Farhat is by far the best teacher I ever had. Because of him I had the confidence to land my dream job in finance right in the middle of the economic downturn. He was always patient and kind, and he offered books, extra materials and seminars, meetings, and outside help. He is a practical teacher who teaches real life along with business theory.”