On October 22, SOM students attended a special presentation by Roger Ferguson, Jr., President and CEO of TIAA-CREF and former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System. Ferguson led a discussion of recent economic developments for a standing-room only audience of more than 80 finance students, faculty and staff.
School of Management assistant professor of finance, Steve Pilloff said, “Dr. Ferguson’s discussion about the current economic situation, how we got here, and where we may be headed was a great opportunity for students to be exposed to a well-thought out, non-political analysis of important and complex issues. Hopefully, it will influence how students think about the world.”
Pilloff strongly encouraged student attendance at the event. After having worked with Ferguson at the Federal Reserve, he felt students would benefit from the opportunity to hear him speak.
Brandi Schinnerer ’12, a junior finance major at the School of Management, said, “Dr. Ferguson's visit to Mason was a great experience. I enjoyed listening to him, really getting inside the head of someone who was in a position of primary influence on the American economy. It was very interesting. I liked how he broke down the financial crisis into easily understood segments, involving the audience as well.”
The School of Management offers events such as these throughout the year. Presentations from business leaders are integral to the learning process, providing students with opportunities to learn from industry professionals.
Senior accounting major, Meredith Gersbach ’11 said, “Dr. Ferguson's visit was (to say it simply) very enlightening. Most of the time, students in the school of management are focusing so hard on their individual classes they fail to understand what is happening in the greater financial world. Dr. Ferguson's discussion with us not only helped students understand what actually happened to cause the financial crisis but what the fed is doing to reverse it (as best they can).”
Earlier that day, Ferguson awarded Mason a $25,000 endowment for winning the TIAA-CREF Raise the Rate contest. TIAA-CREF, one of Mason’s financial partners, held the contest to encourage ideas that will increase the U.S. savings rate to 10 percent in two years. Nearly 170 schools participated in the nationwide contest. Mason won the contest, submitting 296 entries. Utah State University was second, with 93 submissions.
Pilloff also played a role in helping to promote the contest to his students, getting the word out to more than 650 students over the course of two semesters. And he entered the contest himself. One of his ideas, a credit card that would enable people to save as they spend, was selected as a semi-finalist.
TIAA-CREF (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund), is the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical, and cultural fields and a Fortune 100 financial services organization with more than $400 billion in combined assets under management.