Meet the People of Zarb: Vice Dean George J. Papaioannou
[Note: This is one in a series of posts to highlight the people who contribute to making the Zarb School of Business a special place.]
Here is our Q&A with Vice Dean Papaioannou.
- In your time at the Zarb School, you have worn many different hats – from Assistant to Professor to Vice Dean. Could you tell us about your roles at Hofstra.
I came to Hofstra in 1982. It has been an exciting ride, first as a Finance faculty for 30 years and then as the Vice Dean of Zarb for the last two. Advancing from Assistant Professor to Professor was a real challenge but doing well in teaching, scholarship, and service was a rewarding experience and payoff.
My best days as a teacher were those when I walked into the class and I knew I had something truly valuable to teach my students. That could be something knew I had learned in Finance or a new way to teach a concept or application. I felt the same excitement whenever I came up with a new research idea that could lead to a new paper and ultimately publication. As faculty, we also give a lot of service hours in various committees and ad hoc tasks. I enjoyed serving on many committees, often as chair, and I hope the work my colleagues and I did has made the Zarb School and Hofstra University a better place.
Over the last two years, I have had the privilege to serve as the Vice Dean of the School alongside Dean Socci. Many people have asked me how I like the job and in comparison to my job as a faculty. As a professor, I was directly involved in passing on knowledge to my students or creating new knowledge through my research. As Vice Dean, I have the opportunity to create and manage an environment of resources, initiatives, and aspirations that empower faculty and students to achieve higher levels of performance.
- You have published a lot. Tell us about your contributions in this arena.
Ability and chance both can shape one’s life. In my case, a big chunk of my research came as a consequence of a teaching assignment I got after my first semester at Hofstra. My then Finance Department Chair, Al Groppelli, assigned me to teach Investment Banking, of which, I must confess, I knew little at that time. This became an annual assignment that lasted for 30 years. As I was educating myself during the first few semesters, I came across the subject of stocks listing on an exchange, like the New York Stock Exchange. Then the question popped up in my head: “Why do some firms choose to switch their listing from one stock market, say, the Nasdaq to the NYSE?” By 1986, I had published two papers on the topic. I still come across articles and new research papers that cite these two articles.
Over the years, I wrote and published more papers on the same topic. The later papers have investigated the operating performance (e.g., return on assets) of firms after they switched their listing to another marketplace. A stock listing may sound mundane to many people but its study allows us to investigate several interesting questions, like: Do different markets provide a better trading venue for some stocks? Or are expectations about the post-listing performance reflected in the prices of stocks upon announcement of the listing switch? Or can stricter standards of listing resolve some of the uncertainty about less well-known firms?
Teaching investment banking also spurred my curiosity in regards to the ability of some investment banks to stay at the top of the market as underwriters of new issues. So, some of my more recent papers have tried to shed light on such related issues. Between these two strands of research, I have investigated a portfolio of other rather eclectic topics, like the capital structure of firms, mergers and acquisitions, the cost of capital, and the international cross-listing of stocks.
- How has the Zarb School changed over the years?
When I came to Hofstra, one could easily remember the number of buildings and the different schools on the campus. This is no longer as easy. What is most striking is the emergence of new schools. With the additions of the Medical School, the School of Engineering, and the School of Health Sciences and Human Services, Hofstra has truly become a comprehensive educational institution of higher learning.
At the same time, the Zarb School has changed dramatically. The faculty who joined the school after my coming here have brought valuable expertise and talents in teaching and research, in the sophistication and diversity in the use of instructional technology, in the proliferation of research and publishing, and in the development of capabilities for delivering distance learning. All of these provide opportunities and outcomes that make Zarb a very desirable place to be as a student or faculty.
Thanks to the dramatic growth of international education, Zarb has the privilege to be the academic home of hundreds of international students, especially from China. From this standpoint alone, it gives me satisfaction that years from now there will be Chinese or Indian managers, many in influential organizations, who learned business management at Zarb.
A most noteworthy development for Zarb has been our turn of attention to the total development of our students both in terms of acquiring academic skills as well as the skills considered necessary for successful business careers, like leadership, communication, networking, and understanding other cultures. Our new mission “Educating for Personal and Professional Achievement” is the driving force of our commitment in this regard.
- What are you most proud of about the Zarb School and why?
Hofstra’s shared governance system allows all stakeholders to play their role in the common affairs and the future of the institution. Despite differences of opinion, we finally find the path to a collective understanding and resolution of the issues.
As a private institution, dependent on tuition, resources must be tightly managed to produce maximum results. In this respect, the contribution the Zarb faculty make to ensure that all classes are offered to our students year-round, their service in committees and various tasks, and doing all that while they pursue their scholarship is very commendable and the mark of extraordinary professional loyalty. We also have a dedicated administrative staff that works diligently to make the School run efficiently every day.
The Zarb School has a tradition of attracting students and producing alumni who manage to reach professional success. That’s why Zarb graduates are highly ranked in national salary surveys. One of the best kept secrets of the Zarb School is the multitudes of high-profile business leaders Zarb has spawn not only in the U.S. but all over the world.
- What do you see ahead for the field of business education?
The business environment is dynamic and ever changing due to innovations and disruptive practices. Therefore, business education has the enormous challenge of not only teaching students the various disciplines, but also instilling in them the ability to cope with change, to be open to innovation and creativity, to manage interpersonal relationships, and to grasp the influence of the global marketplace. This may point to an undergraduate curriculum that combines business courses with instruction in other fields that are specially tailored to deliver knowledge and training In the above areas that lie outside the typical business disciplines.
- What is something that most people do not know about you?
I have an eclectic taste in music — from pop to classical — and I like to read books on history, cultures and ideas, science, and religion. Also, I like to fish and enjoy travel.
- Any final thoughts?
They say that education is a noble profession. Building an educational institution is by consequence a noble enterprise. The Zarb family includes faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Let’s all keep building a better Zarb for those who are here now and those who will follow.