2017 Top 40 Undergraduate Professors: Dana Muir, University of Michigan (Ross)

Dana Muir

Robert L. Dixon Collegiate Professor of Business and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Business Law

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

With her expertise in fiduciary regulations, investments, pension plan funding, plan investment selection and investment policies, and investment advice, Dana Muir has served the United States Congress as a Congressional Fellow, the United States Department of Labor as a council member on pension and welfare benefits, and the United States Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation as an advisory committee member. Since 2015 she has served the Wall Street Journal as an expert contributor while she’s regularly called upon by investment news media such as Bloomberg, MarketWatch, and others for her insights.

In the classroom, this Arthur F. Thurnau Professor (a title she holds specifically for teaching excellence) is highly regarded among both students and fellow faculty. One colleague, describes her as “a legend in the classroom” when referencing her 2015 spearheading of the Ross Integrative Semester, an initiative connecting across courses in management, operations, law, and communications to teach systems thinking at the enterprise level. “Through Prof. Muir’s leadership, students learned the power of business to take on the world’s biggest challenges,” the professor said.

Professor Muir has been recognized by the Ross School and the University of Michigan for her outstanding teaching and service. In 2015, Ross awarded her with the Victor L. Bernard Teaching Leadership Award and two years prior the university, recognized her for distinguished public service. 

Age: Young at heart

At current institution since: 1993

Education: AB University of Michigan; MBA University of Detroit; JD University of Michigan

List of courses currently teaching: Business Law and Ethics, Employment Law

Fun fact about yourself: I grew up on a farm and attended a one-room school for three years

“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…” I wasn’t sure until my first struggling student ‘got it.’  It is rewarding to see people gain abilities and confidence

“If I weren’t a business school professor…” I would own a SCUBA diving resort

“One word that describes my first time teaching…” Terrifying

What do you enjoy most about teaching undergraduate business students? Many don’t yet know which direction they are headed but already are goal oriented

What is the biggest challenge that comes with teaching undergraduate business students? Business school students sometimes want to move immediately to the end-game (the bright shiny ball) of current business problems without taking the time to work on the necessary intellectual capacities.  Critical thinking, careful reading, adaptability, and strong analytical skills are necessary for success in business.

What is the most impressive thing one of your undergraduate students has done? There are too many to name one.  I especially admire those who are making a positive difference in society and who find their work fulfilling.

What is the least favorite thing one has done? Trying to get an unfair edge over classmates

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class? They have to develop the ability to use the class concepts to engage in careful and thorough problem analysis

“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as …” Tough, but fair

“But I would describe myself as …” Having high expectations, but being fair

What are your hobbies? When I can’t SCUBA dive, I like to garden

How did you spend your summer? Teaching in the Ross EMBA program and working on my research. And, a bit of SCUBA diving.

Favorite place to vacation: Indonesia. Anywhere in Bali or east of Bali

Favorite book: Whatever I’m currently reading

Favorite movie and/or television show: Of current television shows, Blacklist. But, I admit to spending more time watching college football (Go Blue!) than anything else.

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: Historically, Ella Fitzgerald. Now, Cécile McLorin Salvant.

Bucket list item #1: Seeing a whale shark. That was the last creature on my ‘to see’ list, so now I need a new bucket list.

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Receiving the Michigan Ross Vic Bernard Teaching Leadership award

What is your most memorable moment as a professor? That is too embarrassing to repeat!  

Professor you most admire and why: Theodore (Ted) J. St. Antoine, James E. and Sarah A. Degan Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Michigan Law School.  Ted expects greatness from his students in the classroom and in their careers. He treats everyone with respect. He has served the legal profession and the Michigan Law School in many ways. He continues to inspire me.  

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I research ways in which the law creates both opportunities and barriers for workers who want to have a financially secure retirement. Whenever I can contribute to improving that system, I am pleased.

Twitter handle: @DanaMuir

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…” Courses and students who focus on the long term

“And much less of this…” Self promotion and self interest

Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would like for you: From a teaching perspective, I will be pleased if I see the names of former students as they receive honors for leadership both in business and society (and not on the front page of the scandal sheets).

Students say…

“On my first day of Business Law 300, I could tell Professor Muir was not only an expert in her field, but passionate about the material and students in the classroom. She constantly challenged us to think about the application of law in various business scenarios, facilitating rich discussions in the classroom and in office hours. From my time as her student, I have further developed my critical thinking skills and knowledge that is applicable to my career aspirations in addition to a growing interest in business law courses!”

“Professor Muir played a strong role in my decision to attend law school. Her enthusiasm and commitment to students made coming to class (albeit at 8:30am) a pleasure! I see her as an exceptional mentor; she set me on the right path to attend Michigan Law School.”