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The foundation and future of finance (continued)

III. Proactive Outreach

In the months of planning leading up to Finance Day in April, faculty from the Finance Group were not sure what they could expect by way of alumni attendance or their depth of engagement. As it turns out, both were overwhelming.

“We had no idea it would be as popular as it was,” said Lo of the sold-out event. “The faculty enjoyed it, the students enjoyed it, and the alumni came out in droves,” with some traveling from the West Coast, Europe, and Asia to attend.

“We were stunned and pleased about the fact that our alumni and former students were interested in engaging with faculty on a really high-level debate about issues ruling finance and the relationship of financial markets,” said Schoar. “People were pleased by the quality of the debate and questions, and we were happy to see how much positive feedback and feelings there are toward the Finance department at MIT Sloan.”

Based on its popularity, which Lo credits to its roster of “star-studded speakers,” the event will likely be held on a biannual basis in New York City. Similar upcoming finance events will take place in London on June 13, 2013, and in Shanghai on July 19, 2013. In addition, other outreach efforts by the Finance Group continue to make an impact both on and off campus, from hosting and participating in a June meeting of the Boston Financial Services Leadership Council to sponsoring a day-long, Institute-wide workshop on finance for MIT faculty to aiding the establishment of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Research (OFR).

On the latter initiative, Merton credits Lo for his role in incorporating the OFR as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. As an independent, nonregulatory institution for finance, the role of the OFR is to improve the quality and analysis of data for policy and decision makers to “produce, promote, and sponsor financial research aimed at developing the analytical tools we need to assess threats to financial stability,” according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury website.

Back on campus, a June course titled, Finance Made Difficult, drew nearly 75 faculty members representing departments across the campus, all of whom signed on for an opportunity to gain insight into the workings of the Finance Group.

“We had the chance to teach a bunch of great students, and we were able to acquaint people at the Institute with what we do,” said Merton, who noted that Lo taught the participants the basics of finance. “Even if they didn’t get the lyrics, they got the tune.”

As yet another means of outreach to alumni as well as financial industry and academic partners, the Finance Group has its own 32-member advisory board, charged with offering advice and guidance on all department initiatives.

“We engage them when possible with our students,” said Pickett, “in networking, receiving feedback on their pitches, and through other career-advising opportunities.”

“All of the efforts of the Finance Group,” said Merton, “fit very well in the Institute’s tradition of cutting-edge research and bringing it to bear to solve problems. We see the challenges out there, and they suggest great opportunities.”

“Not only do we know that finance is important, but politicians and the media and the public know that finance is important,” said Myers. “We need to make it effective and efficient and fair.”