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Cyree focuses on students, as well as banking professionals

Oxford — Change is a constant in financial services these days, and effective management of change requires a strong educational foundation and a commitment to learning throughout one’s career.

As the new holder of the Frank R. Day/Mississippi Bankers Association (MBA) Chair of Banking at the University of Mississippi, Dr. Ken Cyree is working to meet the needs of students seeking a career in the field while serving as an educational facilitator and resource for those who are already in it.

Since its establishment in 1957, the chair has promoted banking through undergraduate instruction, continuing banker education and consumer education. In 2001, the MBA and the LuckyDay Foundation announced a $2.2 million gift to permanently endow the chair and it has since been called the Frank R. Day/MBA Chair of Banking. According to an MBA spokesperson, it is believed to be the oldest state association-sponsored banking chair in the United States.

Frank R. Day, the banker for whom the chair is named, served as Trustmark’s CEO and chairman for many years prior to his death.

Cyree, who received his doctorate and master’s of business administration from the University of Tennessee, brings teaching and consulting experience to the post, as well as publication in a variety of journals. He has more than 11 years of teaching experience at the college level, having taught at the University of Southern Mississippi and Texas Tech University. He has served as a consultant on fair lending for large commercial banks and his teaching focuses primarily on financial institutions and markets, bank management, corporate finance and investments.

Additionally, Cyree is or has been a faculty member at the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University and the Texas Tech Community Bank School. Recent publications include the Journal of Business, Journal of Banking and Finance, Journal of Financial Research and several others. He has presented more than 20 academic papers, chaired academic sessions and served on the program committee at national and regional academic conferences.

While Cyree has published papers on a variety of topics, some of his current work is on de novo banks, the performance of Internet banks and derivatives use by banks. Given his experience and interaction with students and professionals, Cyree said that one of his goals is the establishment of a more formal internship program.

“Internships are critical in obtaining the experience and perspective that our students need to excel in a competitive marketplace,” Cyree said. “My first goal will be to get this information in a user-friendly format to allow the matching of students and employers. I am also busy making contact with banks and other financial services firms to participate in our programs and hire our students and graduates. I am also requiring students to write and think critically about topics that are important to the future of the industry, as well as day-to-day operations. My goal is to prepare our students to be an integral part of their organizations through their ability to apply knowledge and skills to the problems and opportunities that face the banking industry.”

Competitive changes demand greater skill sets in managing institutions across geographic lines and product lines, and Cyree said that students who are well prepared will be able to contribute to their organizations more quickly and provide more profitable opportunities to enhance the success of their firms.

“Banking executives need to be well-versed in many functional areas, and our banking and finance curriculum is designed to offer broad coverage of topics that managers will face in the future, as well as the specific skills they will need to be able to succeed in specialized jobs and assignments,” Cyree said. “In my classes, I teach students to understand the historical effects of regulation and market structure, to analyze asset/liability management, interest rate risk, investment decisions, lending policies, bank performance and overall bank management. Together with other courses in these functional areas, our students have great opportunities to prepare for a dynamic career in the industry.”

Cyree said that he also has curriculum responsibilities for the Mississippi School of Banking along with the MBA.
Cyree said that the Mississippi School of Banking, a two-year, seven-day program, provides valuable continuing education for the banking community and has been very successful. One area of the program that Cyree said may receive more focus is asset/liability management. “Our goal is to provide education across many topics including communication, human resources, legal and compliance issues, lending, investing, markets, marketing and advertising, accounting and other areas that affect financial institutions.”

Cyree said that the MBA, the Mississippi Young Bankers Association and individual banks have been dedicated to consumer education efforts and that he is working with the MBA on updating the “Banking On Your Future” program. This program has been used to educate students in grades 7-12.

Cyree said that he is pleased to serve in this role, interacting with students and banking leaders in the state and region. “This is an exciting time for the financial services industry,” he concluded.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Karen Kahler Holliday at mbj@msbusiness.com.


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