On Monday January 7, I went home after work and stayed there. It felt strange.
I am taking a break from leading college classes at the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) after teaching on Monday nights for every spring and fall semester for the past seven years. The first ten semesters involved teaching juniors and seniors the principles of investing. The last four semesters were a mixture of senior and graduate level courses. Classes lasted two hours and forty minutes. I rarely let them out early.
The classrooms at UNO are fantastic. A few years ago we moved to a brand new, state of the art building on the south campus. Every classroom has dual projectors, multiple whiteboards, and a nifty control device to run everything. Of all the places I have presented, the classrooms at UNO are the most technologically advanced.
My path to teaching at the university went far more quickly than I had anticipated. Bob Jergovic and I went down to the UNO campus to tour the investment laboratory Bob’s wall mate in college, Dr. David Volkman had set up for his students. I mentioned to him I’d be open to lecturing for a class period if a professor was out of town or wanted someone to speak on a particular area of investing. I figured a few lectures might get my name in the pool. Nothing much happened for six months until Dr. Volkman called up and asked if I wanted to teach a class next semester. I about fell over.
My first class was by far my most challenging. I hadn’t taught before, my mom passed away that semester, and George Svagera, the CLS internal for the Midwest territory, was in it. There were only twelve people who took the risk of a brand new instructor. In spite of all the first semester challenges I came back. So did the students. The second semester I had twenty-five students and routinely had over thirty in the semesters that followed.
Each semester started with the following admonition: “There are two ways to get a ’D’ in this class. The first is don’t come to class. The tests rely heavily on information presented in class so if you aren’t here you won’t do well. The second is to wear New York Yankees paraphernalia to class. I’m a Twins fan and don’t like the Yankees.” One woman wore Yankees hats and shirts on a regular basis. During an exam I walked over to her, flipped her paper around, and wrote a great big “D” on the front page and walked on. She now works at Gemini Fund Services, a sister company of CLS, as a fund accountant.
The most quantitatively gifted student was Rui Wang from China. I started recruiting him as an intern immediately after he handed in his final exam. Now he is a full time employee at CLS who I have worked closely with for years. At some point twelve different students have been coworkers at NorthStar.
I’ll miss a lot of things about teaching. The faculty and administration were so supportive and friendly. The students were wonderful and I learned a lot from them about today’s culture while they were learning about investments from me. The thing I’ll miss most is helping people learn and grow.
While leaving the classroom for a while has some downsides, I am very excited about the next page of my activities outside of CLS. The church I attend has asked me to join the Stewardship Committee as well as take on other leadership roles. I am now happily engaged in learning about how churches budget and plan for their important work. I hope to return to classroom in future years. I promised Dr. Volkman I would be back.