2022 Best Undergraduate Professors: Susan Monaco, Indiana University Kelley School of Business

Susan Monaco
Indiana University Kelley School of Business

“Professor Monaco has rigorously and flawlessly taught at all levels and on a broad range in the world of finance. We frequently heard from students that she created a very positive learning environment, where students felt comfortable asking questions and expressing their views. But, her impact on preparing students for future success goes far beyond the classroom. She has been quite active in curriculum development. She had a prominent role in creating Kelley’s new Fintech Workshop and related curriculum in our undergraduate program.” – Jamie Prenkert, Executive Associate Dean for Faculty and Research

Susan Monaco, 63, is Clinical Associate Professor at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. She also serves as Associate Chairperson of Finance.

In addition to her classroom teaching, she has led or co-led two undergraduate student workshops: the Finance Diversity Program and the Investment Banking Workshop. She also helped create Kelley’s new Fintech Workshop and related curriculum in the undergraduate program and in revising its online MSF program.

She is the winner of the William G. Panschar Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award, Trustees Teaching Award and Alpha Kappa Psi Above and Beyond Teaching Excellence award. This year, she was the sole recipient of the Kelley Honors Program Outstanding Faculty Member award as chosen by Kelley honors students.

She is an expert in market microstructure, in particular the effect of market design on liquidity, volatility, and price informativeness


At current institution since what year? On and off since 1995
Education: PhD, Duke University
List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Intermediate Investments, Corporate Financial Strategy and Governance, Finance Diversity Program, Investment Banking Workshop I and II, Investment Banking and Capital Markets and Financial Markets


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I don’t think this was a conscious choice. I worked in the financial services industry for several years before deciding to return to graduate school in economics. It was only after talking with a finance professor at Duke that I ended up in a business school. Up until then, while I loved finance, it never occurred to me that I should pursue it as a course of study, let alone a long-term career.

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… a line-cook in a diner out West.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I recognize my students are multi-faceted people with different demands in their lives. That doesn’t mean my classes are easy, but that I show them grace when necessary.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Terrifying! I am not comfortable with public speaking, so I find it difficult to walk into a classroom the first day of any semester and feel at ease. I love finance and want to instill that passion in my students, but first I have to get past my fear of public speaking. I usually arrive to class 10 to 15 minutes early to talk with a few of the students. After three or four classes I then feel like I’m talking with a group of friends.

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: How quickly time passes. We live our lives in these small time periods called semesters, and before you know it several years have gone by.

Professor I most admire and why: Richard Feynman because he genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself while simultaneously making physics understandable. He brings humor, passion, and excitement to his lectures. I’ve learned a lot watching videos of his lectures, and not just physics. I’ve learned that being excited about what you are teaching and showing joy is contagious in the classroom. Students are most receptive to learning when they are not only being taught well, but also being put at ease and enjoying their experience in the classroom.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? I love watching the transformation students make over relatively short periods of time. Freshmen in Kelley’s Finance Diversity Program are often intimidated by peers who seemingly know a lot of finance already. With some coaching and very basic lessons, they often gain enough confidence to pursue some of most challenging careers in finance. As sophomores, many of them apply to one of the workshops at Kelley in investment management, investment banking or real estate. They are still finding their way, but I see them transform from tentative participants, to confident members of a workshop. In about 10 months, they go from being nervous about reaching out to upperclassmen, to being mentors for underclassman.

What is most challenging? The most challenging part of teaching business students is when someone is here because of what their parents want them to be, rather than them.

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

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

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Fair and deliberate.


What are your hobbies? I love to cook, read, do crossword puzzles, refinish furniture, and most recently, I’ve started painting.

How will you spend your summer? I’m hoping to get a dog and spend time training it … and me!

Favorite place(s) to vacation: My back deck is my favorite place to vacation. I’m a homebody, good for about one week of travel a year. I enjoy staying home and working on various projects. I’m not quite a DIYer, but I have aspirations to be one.

Favorite book(s): “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman,” by Richard P. Feynman

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? My favorite movies are “The Hunt for Red October,” “White Christmas” and “The Last Waltz.”

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? My favorite type of music is the blues. The music is simple yet powerful, and it speaks to many human emotions.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… free lunches.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… valuing their people.

I’m grateful for… the wonderful family and friends I have.


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