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NMSU finance professor brings international experience to the classroom

For finance professor Harikumar Sankaran, teaching is always a learning experience. The New Mexico State University College of Business professor is constantly looking for ways to improve his own strategies and bring students a global perspective.

Portrait of Hari Sankaran
New Mexico State University finance professor Harikumar Sankaran, who holds the Stan Fulton Chair in the College of Business, will travel to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, during spring break with colleagues to present a workshop at the International Conference on Technology and Business Management. (NMSU photo by Amanda Bradford)

Sankaran will travel to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, later this month, along with Interim Finance Department Head Ken Martin and Sankaran?s wife, Jayashree Harikumar, an engineer with NMSU?s Physical Science Lab, to present a workshop at the International Conference on Technology and Business Management hosted by American University in the Emirates.

Sankaran will speak about financial applications of the computational programming language MATLAB, which he has incorporated into instruction in two of his MBA finance courses here at NMSU. During his visit, he?ll also be meeting faculty members and administrators from Europe, the Middle East and India to explore the possibility of collaborating with the NMSU MBA program.

?This is a global village, and we can?t sit tight in our little corner in Las Cruces and pretend that the world doesn?t exist,? said Sankaran, a native of India. Bringing in more international students and collaborators will only enhance the learning experience for NMSU business students, he added.

Interim Dean Kathy Brook said the College of Business has a goal of expanding opportunities for faculty members and students to understand the global economy, and Sankaran?s travel to Dubai, which is supported by the college, is one example of that.

?And in this case, the international experience also affords the chance for Dr. Sankaran to enhance his knowledge of best practices on the use of technology in the classroom,? Brook said.

As an educator, Sankaran has taught at University of Houston, where he earned his Ph.D. in finance, as well as University of Miami and University of Alaska Fairbanks. He settled in between those two U.S. geographic extremes in 2002, when he joined the NMSU faculty as an associate professor, later attaining full professorship.

Throughout his teaching career, Sankaran has continued to examine new ways of approaching the classroom, and has found there is always room to improve.

?I attended a two-part seminar at Harvard Business School on case method teaching and it was all about participant-centered learning,? Sankaran said. ?When I implemented what I learned, and made the students take ownership of their learning, the dynamic totally changed.?

Sankaran has also mentored students looking to transition from an MBA to a Ph.D. program, working with them to develop their research skills and publishing articles with many of his students in peer-reviewed journals.

For his work in the college, Sankaran has been honored with awards for outstanding graduate teaching and outstanding scholarly research. He was named Wells Fargo Distinguished Professor in 2010 and a fellow of the Domenici Institute for Public Policy in 2012.

Currently, Sankaran serves as the Stan Fulton Chair in Business, a post he will hold through 2017. The Fulton Chair was established in 2006 to honor outstanding faculty achievement and enhance the university?s leadership, reputation, academic programs, outreach and research.

As Fulton Chair, Sankaran will be working to foster collaborative research, including using the consumer behavioral laboratory and launching a working paper series.

He?s also working on ways to grow the MBA program and increase the technology available to students. With the MATLAB capabilities that students are learning, they?d greatly benefit from adding a Bloomberg Terminal, Sankaran said, which would provide proprietary financial data that students could use as they learn to work with complex finance algorithms. Students in other business disciplines would also benefit from this data vendor, he said.

All of his teaching honors ? and the support of the leadership in the College of Business ? have only served to motivate Sankaran to do more.

?It?s all about students. I have to take them, where they are, and be a bridge for them, to facilitate their development,? he said. ?The college has bestowed on me so much honor that it makes me feel all the more responsible that I should be a solid bridge!?