2018 Top 50 Undergraduate Professors: Jonathan Clarke, Georgia Institute of Technology (Scheller)

Jonathan Clarke

Associate Professor of Finance

Georgia Institute of Technology, Scheller College of Business

For Georgia Tech’s Jonathan Clarke, it was the 1987 film Wall Street that attracted the award-winning teacher and researcher to the world of finance. Unethical business practices aside, the glamour of it all — marked by important men engaged in important deal-making — fascinated the now finance professor at a young very young age.

Fast forward to today and this professor’s passion for personal finance has left a mark in the community. He’s taught financial literacy for the National Football League, was the first to offer a personal finance course at Georgia Tech, and launched “Wall Street and West Peachtree,” a personal finance camp for high school students. He regularly hosts civic groups, including the Metro-Atlanta Boy Scouts, on Scheller College’s trading floor to cover lessons on saving, budgeting, and stock trading.

At Scheller, Professor Clarke teaches graduate and undergraduate students. He has also served as the school’s Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs. During his tenure in that role, Clarke is credited with guiding Scheller College to impressive new heights including a 21% increase in average starting salaries for undergraduates, the number of applicants nearly doubled, and a rise to #11 in Poets&Quants’ annual ranking of undergraduate business programs.

Age: 45

Education: BA in Mathematics and Economics, Indiana University; PhD in Finance, University of Pittsburgh

At current institution since: 2001

List of courses you currently teach: Security Valuation; Financial Markets: Trading and Structure

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Serving as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at Scheller from 2012-2016

“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…” my Dad took me to see the movie “Wall Street” in 1987

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

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? My coauthors and I look at how the stock market responds to fake news. Fake news captures investor attention.  However, the broader stock market appears to price fake news correctly.

What is your most memorable moment as a professor? Getting my first publication

Since you first started teaching, how has business education changed? Business education is more focused on experiential learning

“If I weren’t a business school professor, I would be…” Investment banker

“Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a professor”: It can be grind – especially with publishing. There are many ups and downs

Name of the professor you most admire and why: My Dad.  He is a computer science professor and won the 2007 Turing Award. He has always been exceptionally creative and hardworking.

What do you enjoy most about teaching undergraduate business students? I get to interact with next great business leaders on a daily basis.

What’s the biggest challenge? Keeping students engaged during class

What is the most impressive thing one of your undergraduate students has done? I can’t name just one. I’ve taught several undergrads that have become managing directors and CEOs.

What is the least favorite thing one has done? Students have occasionally done poorly on exams or job interviews, but I’m always impressed by their ability to bounce back from these setbacks. Students have great resiliency.

Since you’ve been teaching, how have students changed over the years? Students haven’t changed much at Scheller. They have always been smart, hard -working, and good problem solvers.

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class? They need to be able to apply finance concepts to real world business problems.

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

If your teaching style/classroom experience had a theme song, what would it be? Money – Pink Floyd

Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student: Enthusiastic

Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Unmotivated

“If my students can apply theory to practice, then I’ve done my job as their professor.” 

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a big Pittsburgh Steeler fan

What are your hobbies? Traveling and fishing

How did you spend your summer? Visiting Yellowstone/Grand Tetons

Favorite place to vacation: Hilton Head

Favorite book: Capitalism and Freedom

Favorite movie and/or television show: Breaking Bad

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: The Beatles

Bucket list item #1: Travel to Antarctica

What’s the biggest challenge facing business education at the moment? In general, the cost of an undergraduate degree

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…” active learning

“And much less of this…” lecture

Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would be like for you: In 10 years, I hope to still be teaching undergraduates and plugging away on my research.  I love my job.