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Davidson named SIU's outstanding teacher

April 15, 2010, Christi Mathis

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Wallace N. “Dave” Davidson III

Henry J. Rehn Professor of Finance Wallace N. “Dave” Davidson III is Southern Illinois University’s Outstanding Teacher for 2010.

The University-wide honor is part of the Excellence Through Commitment Awards Program, established in 2003. Chancellor Samuel Goldman will host a dinner honoring the award winners on April 20 at the Student Center.

Davidson will receive a certificate from Goldman and a free parking space for one year.

Davidson is completing his 21st year at the University, arriving in 1989 as a College of Business professor. Also the winner of the College of Business Outstanding Scholar award this year, he has won numerous awards at the university and national level, many for his teaching. He was also the College of Business 2008 Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher of the Year and Researcher of the Year.

In addition to the 16 teaching awards he has earned from his college, he annually scores extremely well on student evaluations, usually averaging 4.7 or higher on a 5-point scale.

“His courses are very demanding, yet students consistently rank his courses among the ‘best’ courses they have taken. He maintains very high rigor in his courses and his grading is very demanding and fair, yet students seek out his courses. That speaks volumes of his teaching prowess,” wrote J. Dennis Cradit, dean of the College of Business, in his letter nominating Davidson for the award.

James Musumeci, chairman of the finance department, echoed Cradit’s praises for Davidson. He said students time and again proclaim Davidson’s classes among the hardest and most challenging but “they like it because they see its practical applications.”

Cradit noted that Davidson also typically leads the college’s student balloting for the Graduate Teacher of the Year Award.

For 2009 “he is both the College’s Undergraduate and Graduate Teacher of the Year which is a very unique and striking achievement,” Cradit wrote. “If not for the no-repeat clause for the Graduate Teacher award, he would probably be the college’s Undergraduate and Graduate Teacher of the Year each year.”

Colleagues as well as current and former students are highly complimentary of Davidson. Jamie John McNutt, now a finance assistant professor at SIU, is a three-degree alumnus of SIU and took both undergraduate and graduate-level courses from Davidson.

“I can honestly say that Professor Davidson is the best pure educator I have had the privilege to study under,” McNutt wrote in endorsing Davidson as Outstanding Teacher.

“He is a 100 percent student-oriented professor,” agreed Hongxia Wang, a former Davidson student who is now an assistant professor of finance at the Dauch College of Business at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio. Wang also served as a teaching assistant for Davidson and said that even when he wasn’t taking Davidson’s classes for credit, “I never missed a class because I simply believe it would have been my own loss if I did not show up. I hope that one day I will be able to teach as well as he does.”

Corporate finance, working capital management, capital budgeting, financial statement analysis, financial theory and security valuation are among the subjects Davidson teaches. He’s also produced numerous continuing education seminars and online classes for the Professional Development Institute and American Institute of CPAs. Also, he’s been involved in the new online MBA program the College of Business implemented this academic year.

“He is extremely effective in working directly with individual graduate students,” writes Dan L. Worrell, former dean of the College of Business and Sam Walton Leadership Chair and dean of the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. “Dave functions as a mentor teaching students both the art and the science of the publication process. Dave is clearly an exemplary teacher. The best of the best have more than outstanding platform skills. They excel in bringing cutting-edge issues into the classroom.”

Musumeci calls Davidson “an outstanding contributor to our doctoral program,” saying he has perhaps chaired half or more of the dissertations in the finance department in the last decade or so.

Davidson’s commitment to his students doesn’t end when they graduate, either.

Pornsit Jiraporn, assistant professor of finance in the School of Graduate Professional Studies at Pennsylvania State University, is one of many who worked with Davidson as a doctoral student. He recalls how quickly Davidson reviewed dissertation drafts even though he was working with other students at the same time, and he praised Davidson for his “insightful advice” and accessibility as a teacher. He also noted Davidson’s continued support in working with him on research projects, resulting in a number of successful publications and in helping students with their pursuit of employment after graduation.

Teaching awards for Davidson come from the national level as well. The American Institute of CPAs has twice named him Distinguished Discussion Leader for his high teaching evaluations in the continuing education program.

Davidson earned his doctorate in 1982 at The Ohio State University. He holds an MBA and bachelor’s degree, completed in 1976 and 1974, respectively, from Wright State University in Ohio. Prior to his arrival at SIUC, Davidson was Burton R. Risinger Professor of Finance at Louisiana Tech University from 1987 to 1989 and taught 1982-1987 as associate professor and assistant at the University of North Texas. He was assistant professor 1980-1982 at Otterbein College and previously worked in industry.

Davidson is widely published as well, with more than 150 articles, chapters and books to his credit. According to “Most Prolific Authors in the Finance Literature: 1959 to 2008” Davidson ranks 62nd for his published work in 26 “core” finance journals and 406th for his work in seven leading finance journals among hundreds of published faculty members. The recent paper featuring the rankings is by Jean L. Heck and Phillip L. Cooley, of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and Trinity University in San Antonio, respectively. In addition, he has an active service record working on various committees at all levels throughout the University.

Davidson and wife Rebecca reside in Carbondale. He enjoys competitive swimming and competing in triathlons. He also assists the SIU Triathlon Club, a registered student organization.