2020 Best Undergraduate Business Professors: Elizabeth Cosenza, Fordham University

Elizabeth Cosenza of Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business is a 2020 Poets&Quants Best Undergraduate Business School Professor

Elizabeth Cosenza

Associate Professor & Area Chair, Law & Ethics

Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University

For Elizabeth Cosenza, joining the faculty at the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University in 2004 was a full-circle experience. Cosenza graduated from Fordham in 1998 and was the valedictorian of the class. She was a Truman Scholar and Rhodes Scholar district finalist and enrolled at Harvard Law School, where she earned a J.D. and began practicing law at a major New York City law firm. But then she taught a business law course.

“I taught a night section of business law while still practicing law at a major NYC law firm,” Cosenza says. “I realized that I could have a greater impact on the future of American business by teaching and mentoring the next generation of business leaders.”

Now Cosenza is a professor of law and ethics at the Gabelli School and teaches a course called Legal Framework of Business. Now Cosenza is a leading researcher and writer at the intersection of business and law. She’s published dozens of papers and legal briefs, one of which, was submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Current age: 43

At current institution since what year? 2004

Education: BA in Political Science and French Literature (Fordham University), JD (Harvard Law School)

List of courses you currently teach: Legal Framework of Business


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I taught a night section of business law while still practicing law at a major NYC law firm. I realized that I could have a greater impact on the future of American business by teaching and mentoring the next generation of business leaders.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I am currently researching the price maintenance theory in the context of securities fraud class action lawsuits.  I have contributed to a number of amicus briefs on this topic, one of which was submitted to the United States Supreme Court.  The most significant discovery I have made in this research is that some courts fail to understand the interplay between public disclosures and the impact those disclosures actually have on investors and stock market price.

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be a… practicing lawyer at a fashion company or a rowing instructor.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? 

After 16 years of teaching, I bring to the classroom the same level of enthusiasm and passion for the material I teach.  I enjoy mentoring students and helping them navigate the complexities of an ever-changing job market.  I have an unwavering commitment to delivering the highest-quality, personalized educational experience to my students.  As a Fordham alumna, I can relate to my students in a way that is meaningful and impactful.

One word that describes my first time teaching: excited!

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor:  The challenges of working collaboratively across the administration and faculty to develop a highly relevant curriculum geared toward the modern job market.

Professor I most admire and why:  Professor Harry Nasuti of the Fordham University Theology Department.  He served as my mentor when I was a Fordham undergraduate student applying for prestigious fellowships.  He showed me what it means to be a committed and dedicated advocate for the personal development of each student.  His mentorship reflected Fordham’s mission of cura personalis (or care for the whole person).  In concert with his guidance and wisdom, I was selected as a Harry S. Truman Fellow and a Rhodes Scholar District Finalist.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? 

I appreciate that they have (or desire to have) an understanding of real-world business issues.  They are grounded in the real world while having an aspirational vision for the future of business.  They are the perfect mix of practical and idealistic.

What is most challenging? 

Making sure my course is relevant to what my students are experiencing in the business world and never losing sight of my need to listen to them.  It is a reciprocal and evolving relationship.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Receptive

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Disinterested

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… very (very) tough but fair.


What are your hobbies? 

High-intensity rowing, yoga, endurance and strength training, following fashion trends, traveling and spending leisure time with my husband and three children, attending sporting events (especially NY Rangers Hockey games and my children’s hockey, baseball, and basketball games), and deep cleaning my apartment.

How will you spend your summer?

I will spend quality time at home with my family.  Moreover, I will be developing new pedagogical approaches for the “new normal” classroom experience in the fall.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Portugal because it is where my parents were born and raised and where I spent summers growing up.  We enjoy the farms, beaches, cities, small villages, warm days and chilly nights, and, most importantly, the humility and hospitality of the Portuguese people.  I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to show my husband and children my parents’ childhood homes and to reconnect with my extended family when we visit.  We especially enjoy Portugal’s famed dessert, pasteis de nata!

Favorite book(s):  The Giver by Lois Lowry

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?

Shawshank Redemption because it shows a man’s unwillingness to give up even in face of the most challenging circumstances.  It also chronicles the unlikely friendship between two men who had vastly different backgrounds but were able to develop a deep loyalty to each other based on the similarity and strength of their inner character.  The movie highlights the importance of human connection in the experience of life.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why?

80’s and contemporary pop music because it tends to be light and fun.  My favorite song right now is Blinding Lights by The Weeknd.

If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… ethics-infused education and experiential learning modules so that students could get more practical experience based on job market needs.  As a business law professor with an eye toward the future that is shaped by ongoing problems and challenges, I would also advocate for more courses and/or degree programs on crisis management, corporate governance, and ethical leadership.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… hiring people based on character and ethics over “curated” resumes.  They also need to maintain the ethos of the primacy of good character throughout all levels of the organization starting at the management level.

I’m grateful for… my and my family’s health, the opportunity to impact the next generation of business leaders, a job that I love and excites me each and every day, the best students any professor could ever ask for, and the ability to remain centered even during difficult times through the practice of yoga.

Faculty, students, alumni, and/or administrators say: 

“Professor Elizabeth Cosenza is a passionate teacher who truly engages students. As a student in her Law class, we were challenged and motivated daily. Professor Cosenza created an immersive learning experience that allowed us to understand and apply the law accurately. Through her class, I developed an interest in law that made me consider law as a career path. Her passion and knowledge was easily transferred unto us as her students.”

“Professor Cosenza’s teaching style is inspiring and demonstrates her value for academic rigor and excellence. She always strives to challenge her students and makes herself available for help or intriguing conversations. Each lesson with Professor Cosenza is a fascinating glimpse into the law field, which she passionately adds personal touches of real cases and application into life. She puts great effort into sharing her knowledge and taking time to motivate students, even in these exceptional circumstances. It may seem immature to talk so superfluously about a professor, but Professor Cosenza and her Law class are exactly what I imagined myself getting into when deciding to pursue higher education – academic excellence and nothing less.”

“From the second I walked into my Legal Framework class, Professor Cosenza commanded the classroom with a sense of seriousness that few undergraduates get to experience. Her methodology consisted of using the Socratic method, a friend of many a law students, in order to test the classroom’s knowledge of legal concepts and their respective applications. She was able to draw upon her wealth of experience as a securities lawyer to provide real-world examples of jurisdiction, torts, and contract law that firms frequently face. These topics would then be practically applied via structured debates. She helped prepare moot court simulations that would impress the most experienced of litigators. Best of all, she was there to provide support not just as students, but as individuals. This personal approach to learning enhanced every corner of the classroom. Her pedagogy, knowledge, and demeanor are unparalleled in every form.”

“As a Fordham valedictorian, and graduate of Harvard Law, Professor Cosenza approaches her classes with commitment, attention to detail, and diligence. She regularly measures that students are fully understanding the material by using the Socratic Method. While her expectations are very high, she is one of the kindest and compassionate professors, especially to students who might be struggling. After a student completes her class, Professor Cosenza is a dedicated mentor. She takes notes on students throughout the semester so that she can refer back and call on specific examples when writing letters of recommendation. Her research in securities law, corporate governance, and venture capital has been cited in several prominent legal journals and allows her to draw connections between the law and the various business applications that Gabelli business students study in other courses. She is an inspiration to students to pursue the highest standards academically, professionally, and personally.”

“Among the many distinguished members of our faculty, Elizabeth Cosenza is one of the finest. Her teaching performance, measured by student evaluation surveys and campus reputation, continually demonstrates her ability to cultivate an environment that provides support and encouragement while maintaining high academic standards to all her students. Elizabeth Cosenza’s enthusiasm always shines brightly. She sincerely respects students and conveys this through her caring attitude. Regardless of the complexity of the subject matter or the number of students in her classroom, Elizabeth Cosenza practices the Jesuit mission of Cura Personalis – “care of the whole person.” Elizabeth Cosenza not only cultivates her students’ educational growth, she considers the development of their moral, emotional and spiritual growth as well.”

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