2023 Best Undergraduate Professors: Tingting Liu, Iowa State University Ivy College of Business

Tingting Liu
Iowa State University
Ivy College of Business


I am nominating Dr. Liu because of her transformative impact on undergraduate education in the Ivy College of Business. In just four and a half years at Iowa State, Dr. Liu has developed new courses on financial modeling at the advanced undergraduate and graduate levels, taken over an international study course on global capital markets, developed a new course at the Ph.D. level, and worked closely with and mentored our Ph.D. students as they develop their own research programs. What makes these teaching accomplishments even more impressive is that Dr. Liu is also the most productive young researcher in the Ivy College of Business. I expect that Dr. Liu will soon be one of the youngest professors in the history of the Ivy College of Business to be promoted to Full Professor.– James R. Brown, Department Chair in Finance 


Tingting Liu, 42, is Associate Professor of Finance at Iowa State University Ivy College of Business.

She has been published in leading journals and her research has been covered by numerous media outlets including Bloomberg Opinion, Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, Law360 Newsletters, The Columbia Law School Blog, and The University of Oxford Law Blog.

She was invited to be a member of the prestigious European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) and is a two-time recipient of the Tenure-Eligible/Tenured Faculty Early Achievement in Research Award at Iowa State University. Her research has been a finalist for the best paper award at multiple national and international finance conferences, including the 2023 Financial Management Association Annual Meeting.

Liu has developed or substantially overhauled five different courses since 2018. She is the most awarded and recognized young professor in the Ivy College of Business in terms of teaching. She is the winner of both the Iowa State University Teaching Innovation Award the Ivy College of Business Tenure-Eligible/Tenured Faculty Early Achievement in Teaching Award. In 2022, she received the Iowa State University Award for Early Achievement in Teaching. 


At current institution since what year? 2018

Education: Ph.D. in Finance from University of Georgia  

List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Financial Modeling; Principles of Finance


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when … I enrolled in my first finance course during the MBA program. The application of my prior math skills to address practical financial issues, such as retirement planning and portfolio optimization, fascinated me. The realization that optimal decisions could be derived through learning intrigued me deeply, prompting my desire to pursue a career as a business school professor.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? My research interests are in the areas of centers on empirical corporate finance, corporate governance, financial institutions, and investments, with a primary focus on mergers and acquisitions, board of directors, and institutional trading. My most recent project combines machine learning with manual inspection to determine the classified board status of all U.S. public firms over the years 1991-2020. We find that classified boards were rarely removed during the 1990s. However, over the next two decades, firms more frequently declassified their boards as they aged, as recent economic theory predicts is value-maximizing. Our results suggest that given the evolving governance landscape, studies aiming to investigate how firms adopt takeover defenses through their life cycles need to consider the specific time period. Our results point to issues with not only taking a one-size-fits-all approach to corporate governance practices, but also highlighting concerns that what is viewed as optimal can change over time.

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be … A tennis player 

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? What makes me stand out as a professor is my teaching philosophy that prioritizes student-centered learning and emphasizes real-world applications. 

One word that describes my first time teaching: Rewarding

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: The impact you make on students’ lives extends beyond the academic realm, contributing to their personal and professional growth. 

Professor I most admire and why: Dr. Don Cyr, my first finance professor during my MBA program, is someone I truly appreciate. He showed me what it means to be a good educator and researcher. His MBA class sparked my interest in finance, leading to my decision to shift my career from industry to academia. Dr. Cyr’s guidance proved instrumental, influencing my decision to pursue a Ph.D. in finance and opening up new possibilities in my career. 


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? What I enjoy most about teaching business students is the enthusiasm and curiosity they bring to the classroom. It’s truly rewarding to see their eagerness to apply practical knowledge, and watching their progress is particularly satisfying.

What is most challenging? The most challenging aspect is ensuring that the material remains engaging and relevant, as business topics can evolve quickly. 

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

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

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


What are your hobbies? I enjoy playing tennis and exploring new recipes in the kitchen.

How will you spend your summer? I plan to spend some time relaxing by the beach with my family. 

Favorite place(s) to vacation: One of my favorite vacation spots is my hometown in Sichuan, primarily because of its exquisite and mouthwatering cuisine.

Favorite book(s): One of my favorite books is “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, as it provides valuable insights into decision-making processes.

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 movie is “The Matrix” for its thought-provoking exploration of reality and perception, as well as its groundbreaking visual effects.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I admire Adele for her remarkable ability to convey deep emotions through her soulful and heartfelt music.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this …  In my vision, the business school of the future should place greater emphasis on practical, hands-on experience and real-world application of knowledge, ensuring that students are well-prepared for the challenges of the business world. 

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at … Companies and organizations today need to improve their efforts in training employees about emerging trends and technological tools. Staying up to date is crucial in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. 

I’m grateful for … I am grateful for all the support and sacrifices my husband has made over the years. Without his backing, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and for that, I am truly grateful.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.