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The GW Hatchet

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By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Business school hiring to replace adjuncts in finance program

Meredith+Roaten+%7C+Hatchet+Photographer
Meredith Roaten | Hatchet Photographer

More than one year after full-time faculty refused to teach master’s of finance courses in response to pay cuts, the business school is hiring for at least four positions to teach in the graduate finance program.

Since the compensation changes, tenured faculty members have continued to teach finance courses outside of the master’s of science in finance program, while adjunct professors have taken up the open positions. New hires will reduce the business school’s reliance on adjunct faculty, falling in line with recent University shifts toward hiring full-time faculty members.

Three of at least four open positions in the finance department are for tenured or tenure-track faculty members, according to GW’s jobs website. The other posting is for a senior faculty position, which does not specify tenure-track status.

Linda Livingstone, the dean of the business school, said in an email last month that these openings are part of the school’s usual hiring.

Livingstone declined to say how many faculty members have left the program, how many faculty members currently teach in the program since the changes made last year or whether the current pay rates for adjunct faculty will be maintained for the new faculty members when they begin.

“We continually need to fill vacancies created by normal faculty turnover, typical for an institution of our size,” Livingstone said. “This is particularly true in the Finance Department because of the high demand for our finance programs. Finance is one of the school’s most popular areas of study for both undergraduate and graduate students.”

The finance program is the third-most popular program for graduate students in the school of business, after accountancy and business administration, according to University enrollment data.

The program, which started in the 1990s, now encompasses three smaller programs – the original D.C. cohort and two sections in China.

Full-time faculty in the finance department taught a majority of the D.C. classes until 2015, when they refused to continue teaching after disputes about how the school would share revenue with GW and how faculty would be credited for their teaching and research.

Classes in the D.C. program are usually four hours long and offered on nights and weekends. Faculty teaching in the program used to be offered benefits – like profit sharing between the finance department and the business school to supplement research, a stipend for teaching during odd hours and counting two credit-hours as three-credit hours for payment and scheduling purposes – to offset the rigor of teaching in the program.

But those benefits were removed last October, causing faculty to leave the program. Since then, mostly adjunct professors have taught the classes, which some business school professors say has lowered the program’s quality.

George Jabbour, the associate dean for executive education, a professor of finance and the director of the master’s of finance program, said that since faculty refused to teach last year, he has noticed a decrease in the amount of student interest in the program.

New faculty members will rebalance the program by shifting away from full dependence on adjunct professors, which he said should improve the program’s quality.

Prospective applicants must demonstrate an interest in teaching in the master’s of finance program, according to the jobs postings. Once hired, the new faculty members will likely be required to teach in the master’s of finance program, Jabbour said.

“We would like to hire people to teach specifically in the MSF program,” Jabbour said. “We are an accredited school and we have an accredited program. We need to always keep the ratios according to accreditation requirements. We need more full time faculty in the D.C. cohort at least.”

As the University has shifted to focus more on research over the past few years, budget constraints have required the business school’s deans to make cuts to the finance faculty’s extra benefits, Jabbour said.

“Every time a new dean came things changed because of budget constraints and pressure to reduce costs,” Jabbour said.

The business school ran into additional financial trouble in 2013 when then-dean Doug Guthrie was fired for $13 million of overspending, causing subsequent budget restraints for the school through an eight-year plan that requires the school to pay the money back to the University.

Under former dean Guthrie, the stipend given for teaching during odd hours was removed and, after Linda Livingstone took over, the practice of counting the two credit-hours as three for faculty ended.

Since then, Jabbour, Min Hwang and Robert Savickas are the only full-time faculty still teaching in the D.C. cohort. Hwang did not return a request for comment.

Jabbour and Savickas said they decided last summer to continue teaching in the D.C. program, despite the changes, Jabbour said.

“We could not find qualified adjuncts to teach the courses, and we felt an obligation because both of us were on the management committee of the MSF program,” Jabbour said. “We recruited those students and they needed to graduate.”

Savickas, the chair of the finance department and a member of the management committee for the MSF program, said that because courses for the master’s of finance degree are taught exclusively on Fridays and Saturdays, the former incentives gave faculty needed motivation to teach in the program.

Now, the department is hiring more faculty than ever because professors in the school will not return to a program with fewer benefits, he said.

“We have never had the administration be so generous in giving the number of positions they are offering now,” Savickas said. “We dare not force other full-faculty members to teach in there.”

Dirk Hackbarth, a professor of finance at Boston University’s school of business, said the current ratio of tenured faculty to adjuncts in the master’s of finance program is abnormal, especially for a rigorous program like GW’s.

Hackbarth added that if left unchecked, the dearth of full-time faculty in the program could have long-term consequences, like loss of applicant interest or lower quality applicants.

“It might deteriorate the quality of the students applying,” Hackbarth said. “You may not see immediate effects, but eventually there should be an appreciable decline in the entering class quality or even the quantity of students who apply.”

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