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Sunday, September 21, 2003
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Beyond the Brick
Mission Statement 2: Innovative Graduate Programs

Ohio University fosters distinctive and creative master's programs that emphasize preparation for further graduate work and provide students with the skills to excel in professional roles.

Joshua Woodby is CEO of the University's student-staffed Portfolio Management Group.Financial buzzwords are a staple of Joshua Woodby's vernacular. Trading equities. Fixed-income investments. Diversification. Market risk. But the Ohio University graduate student doesn't arbitrarily talk Wall Street. He walks the walk. As CEO of Ohio University's Portfolio Management Group, Woodby and fellow students are responsible for managing a $100,000 stock portfolio with money provided by The Ohio University Foundation.

The project, designed to provide real-life investment experience for students, sparked Woodby's interest in investment research as an undergraduate and led him to enroll in a new master's degree track designed for students considering careers in the investment field. The financial economics track, developed in 2000 as part of the master of arts degree in economics, exemplifies Ohio University's commitment to fostering creative and distinctive graduate programs.

The 15-month program perfectly fits Woodby's newfound inclination toward investment research and portfolio management. The Solon, Ohio, native plans to pursue a career in commercial and investment banking as well as money management.

"I like that I'm able to discuss and understand something that everyone has to deal with: money and how to manage it," says Woodby, 22. "I want to work with people, make them more comfortable with financial issues and help bridge the gap that exists. To me, that's rewarding."

The financial economics track, developed in collaboration with the College of Business, Department of Finance and School of Accountancy, is different from existing graduate programs in economics and business. It expressly prepares students to serve as financial analysts and advisers at banks, investment and risk management experts at brokerage companies and professionals at other financial enterprises. Traditional economics graduate programs are theory-based and often lead students to doctorates or employment in government agencies, while M.B.A. programs are very broad-based.

"This program is focused on producing financial analysts, professionals who are in demand these days," says Professor K. Doroodian, director of graduate programs in the Department of Economics and creator of the financial economics curriculum. "During the late 1990s, financial companies were having trouble finding enough financial advisors and other similar professionals, and that's when the idea started forming to develop the program."

The new track already has drawn three times as many students as the traditional economics master's program. Its success has prompted Doroodian and others to begin the process of transitioning financial economics from a graduate track to an official master's program. Other plans include delivering the graduate program via the Internet and expanding it to institutions overseas.

Creation of the new program, says President Robert Glidden, illustrates how the University is responding to both student demand and national economic needs.

"When examining creative approaches to master's level education, this sometimes means looking for niches that suit Ohio University and fulfill a societal need," Glidden explains. "Looking at the state of the economy, we could use more skilled and knowledgeable financial analysts today. Our students should be contributing as a valuable resource."

Ohio University has a multifaceted mission that combines academics, social and community elements. Much like the enduring bricks that form Ohio University's structural foundation, these elements form the basis for our future as a comprehensive, national university. This is the second in a five-part series revealing how our adherence to Ohio University's mission is influencing the lives of students, faculty and community members inside and outside Ohio University's enduring brick walls.
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