New dean sees USM College of Business as economic engine

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Published: July 28,2008

There’s a new dean at the helm of the University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM’s) School of Business. It’s Alabama native Dr. Lance Nail, who has areas of research interest in corporate governance and finance, insider trading and international investing and teaching interests in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, portfolio theory and credit markets.

Nail has a vision for the College of Business to be viewed as the economic engine of South Mississippi and the Gulf Coast area.

“That may be in the form of dissemination of knowledge through the education of our students and outreach to the business and broader community or the creation of knowledge through our research and scholarship,” he said.

“We want people to think of USM and the College of Business as the first choice of students seeking to advance their life and career opportunities through the interaction with and mentorship from a community of scholars committed to advancing the interests of all our stakeholders.”

Nail plans to innovate existing programs and add new programs as the need is seen for them. “Our faculty is committed to preparing all of our students for entry and/or advancement in the professional workforce and continuous review of and improvement in the curriculum is certainly one way that we will continue to accomplish this,” he said.

Part of that change is to increasingly incorporate technology into classrooms and curriculum, including the integrated teaching tools of pod casts, videos and talking Power Points to supplement traditional lectures.

“As we increase our students’ learning productivity then we allow for more time in the curriculum for higher level content and also set an example for how they should be utilizing technology to advance their careers in the future,” he said.

He sees the challenges facing the college as funding, funding, funding, and notes that faculty salaries have been rising at more than twice the rate of inflation for more than a decade as fewer new professors are graduating to replace those who are retiring.

“This is a problem that all colleges of business are facing, but it will affect us significantly over the next five years as we face a number of retirements from our faculty — many of whom have been at USM for the better part of their careers,” he said. “We also have a building that has outlived its useful life and we need a more modern facility to be competitive in recruiting and innovatively educating students in an increasingly competitive environment.”

The 42-year-old dean brings an impressive background to his new position. He served five years as chair of the Department of Finance, Economics and Quantitative Methods at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business where he was on the faculty for more than a decade.

His research findings have been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, and he is currently managing editor for International Review of Financial Analysis.

He also served as a senior consultant to Ernst & Young LLP National Consulting Group.

Nail earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Alabama, graduating first in a class of 575. He received a Ph.D. in finance with a minor in economics from the University of Georgia.

“I was always a bit of a numbers geek and found finance to be more interesting and personally interactive than electrical engineering where I also considered majoring,” he says of his decision to enter education. “Fortunately, I have been able to use both my quantitative and interpersonal skills throughout my financial career.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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