Scott Fung is the Jack and Susan Acosta Professor of Finance.
Some might think accounting and finance are pretty dry subjects, full of numbers and formulas that don’t change much from year to year.
Not according to Associate Professor Scott Fung. It’s creative, challenging and constantly changing. “Since I taught my first class in 2001, finance has never stopped and I have never lost my interest and passion in finance,” he said.
In fall 2011, Fung was designated the Jack & Susan Acosta Professor of Finance in CSUEB’s College of Business & Economics. His faculty and colleagues selected him for the honor of holding the newest endowed professorship in the college, which was created by CBE alumnus Jack Acosta '75, MBA '78 and his wife Susan to recognize outstanding faculty in accounting and finance.
Fung earned his Bachelor Honours Degree in Economics at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, then completed his Doctor of Business Administration with a major in finance at Boston University’s Graduate School of Management. He spent six years at BU, which he called “the most stimulating time ever.” During his doctoral training, he took classes at BU, Harvard, and MIT and worked with mentors who made him begin to consider teaching and research as a career.
After graduating from BU, Fung had opportunities to work in the world of finance, but said he found himself missing classrooms and students. “I interacted with so many scholars who were great examples of academics,” he said. “They cared for their students, they excelled in their fields, and I decided to be a professor as well.”
Fung, who describes himself as someone who likes taking new challenges and opportunities, spent two years working for the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and teaching a new MBA program offered in different cities in China. But long term, he was looking to California to be near friends and family. Cal State East Bay made a good impression, he said — a great location, dynamic and diverse faculty in CBE, and students willing to learn.
Fung is now in his sixth year teaching at CSUEB, although he jokes that “I always feel like it’s my second year.” He particularly likes the quarter system, and the opportunities he has to balance research and teaching.
The Acosta Professorship, established with a gift from the Acosta family in 2009, is designed to support that balance. Research like Fung’s is a way to enhance the university’s reputation, as papers appear in national and international publications and are presented at high profile conferences.
Endowed professorships also help the colleges provide incentives for faculty when hiring or keeping faculty members. Such incentives are important in business disciplines, said CBE Dean Terri Swartz, because the university is competing with private sector opportunities.
Although Fung enjoys his research, working on dozens of papers and projects at a time, teaching remains a passion. It helps, he noted, that CSUEB students are very motivated to do well and are eager to engage with the subject matter.
“They have access to information, but it’s my job to provide a framework and practical tools for them,” he explained. “I teach them to be more critical of that information, to be independent thinkers, to be creative, to be interested and passion in learning.”
To reach them all, he makes sure to explore different teaching methods, starting from the basics, relating what he’s teaching to daily life, news headlines or situations students will be personally familiar with, to real world policies, case studies, simulations and practices. Fung is a popular professor, too, with many former students keeping in touch after graduation.
Fung said he also appreciates the university’s new initiatives to incorporate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) across the curriculum. Many of his graduate students have backgrounds in engineering, science or health care, he explained. Because they’re coming from STEM-related industries in the region, it’s especially valuable for them to be able to integrate their experiences with their coursework in a relevant way.
With finance in the news more than ever, Fung’s research calendar is booked for years out. His research projects span across different fields of economics, finance and real estate, and highlight the economic interrelationships between the financial markets, corporate decisions and institutional features. Topics include looking into corporate finance, market microstructure, options, futures and derivatives, real estate and the current state of the global and emerging financial markets. He works with co-authors from different universities and institutions across U.S. and around the world, whose insights keep him engaged in and out of the classroom.
Thanks to the added support of the Acosta professorship, Fung said he hopes to focus on developing new areas of research, working with other faculty and inviting students to get involved in some of his projects and other educational activities.
“I very much appreciate Jack and Susan Acosta and their support of the College of Business and Economics, for providing this opportunity, and it is an honor to the be the first Acosta Professor," he said.
"Many people have helped me throughout my career and I am grateful to them. Now it’s time for me to give back to others.”