Formats: MP3 & M4V
MEDIA ALERT: Sept.
29, 2008 UMD Faculty Experts Available for Comment on Economic Turmoil,
Federal Bailout Plan
Smith Community Gathers to Discuss Financial Storm
As Congress and federal regulators scramble to shore up U.S. financial
institutions, leading business school faculty and staff are working to
understand the evolving situation and explain it to students and alumni. Leaders
at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business are helping
the Smith community navigate the financial crisis. More than 200 students,
faculty and staff packed Frank Auditorium in the school’s Van Munching Hall on
Friday, Sept. 26 for a town-hall meeting to discuss the market meltdown, the
bailout plan and the fallout rocking the U.S. economy. A follow-up
community-wide meeting is planned for Oct. 31 to cover implications for careers
in finance and job prospects for all industries with Smith’s Office of Career
Management, recruiters and alumni.
Smith School Dean G. “Anand” Anandalingam welcomed the full house and urged
everyone not to panic, but rather to listen to the financial experts in these
“It is precisely in these times of uncertainty that communities can come
together and support each other,” said Gerald Suarez, associate dean for
external strategy, which encompasses Smith’s offices of Career Management,
Recruiting and Marketing Communications. Even with what he called a “category 5
financial hurricane” bearing down, Suarez urged students not to take the
evacuation route, but rather to rely on the education they are receiving at
Smith and the support of the community to broaden their career plans and explore
Alex Triantis, associate professor and chair of Smith’s finance department,
explained the history of long-term capital management and how financial firms
leverage debt as a risky way to make a lot of money. Triantis turned the session
over to Professor Haluk Ünal, a banking expert, to dissect how the financial
system got into the current mess and offer his solutions for getting out of it.
Ünal used the financial crisis as a teachable moment to point out a need for
more social responsibility. “The thrill of making money is addictive,” he said,
warning students not to fall prey to the lure that encouraged many financial
managers to make the risky deals that led to the current crisis.
“When you go out there managing money, you should remember this and not make
these same decisions. We need a generation that asks “Is this socially
responsible?’,” Ünal said.
Ünal’s call was a sentiment shared by all of the Smith School leaders. Bob Krapfel, associate dean of MBA and MS programs and emcee of the event, said the
next generation of business leaders – current students – must be caretakers with
a sense of social responsibility.
Finance faculty Mark Taranto and Sarah Kroncke, who each have several years
of Wall Street experience, jumped in to help Ünal and Triantis field questions.
MBA and undergraduate students joined the dialogue, asking why something wasn’t
done earlier to save the financial system from turmoil, how the role of
short-selling stocks figured into the financial crisis (it was legal, but not
always socially responsible), whether it is likely regulators will over-react
and become too restrictive (most likely, but things will hopefully eventually
balance out), and even “is my money safer under my mattress?” (the answer is
Kroncke, herself a Smith MBA alum, reassured students that they will have job
opportunities in finance, but their career paths might be new. “Deals will still
get done, they’ll just get done differently,” she said.
Krapfel echoed Kroncke’s positive outlook and encouraged students to just be
flexible, patient and perseverant as they go forward in their job and internship
“You’ve got to make the best of what life gives you,” Krapfel said. “Don’t
look at the doom and gloom; see opportunity.”
The Smith School will help students figure out their individual career paths.
A town-hall meeting on Oct. 31 will address career implications and is one of
several actions the Smith School is planning in the coming weeks and months as
the economic turmoil continues to evolve.