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Keven Yost, Associate Professor in Finance and Synovus Fellow at the Harbert College of Business, teaches Mergers and Acquisitions courses to both graduate and undergraduate students.
"If I look back on some of those real influential teachers that I had, both in the high school and in college, it was their passion, and their investing in me, that got me to where I am. In some sense, it's returning the favor. It's so fun to see when the light turns on for a student." — Keven Yost
Keven Yost was asked what he wanted students to take from his classrooms more than anything else. His answer, “To know that I care.” Yost, Associate Professor in Finance at the Harbert College, teaches Principles of Finance to undergraduate students, a graduate-level finance course to MBA students, and Mergers and Acquisitions to both undergraduate and graduate students. Yost, an avid runner, took time to share his perspectives:
What legacy do you want to leave on your students?
Keven Yost: “I want them to walk away knowing that I care. That I care about them doing well. That I'm not going to give it to them. I'm not going to carry them through this semester. I do put the responsibility on the students to do their part, but I'm there. If they're doing what they need to be doing, I'm there to help them out in any way I can. Whether they're going to pursue finance as a major and a career, or whether this is just a stepping stone to a different area they're studying, we're interested in their success.”
Obviously you have a passion to see your students succeed in the classroom, and later
in their careers. Where does this passion come from?
Keven Yost: “I think it comes from great professors and teachers I had growing up. If I look back on some of those really influential teachers I had, both in the high school and in college, it was their passion, and their investing in me, that got me to where I am. In some sense, it's returning the favor. It's so fun to see when the light turns on for a student. Sometimes, it's a student that was thinking about finance, and then they pursue that with more energy and motivation because of what they're learning in the class. For some students, it wasn't finance, and it's not going to be finance. Still, they see an appreciation for how they're going to use that finance in just their personal lives.”
When the world changed, of course, and COVID-19 forced much remote learning, how did
you maintain this the same high-level of quality education in the classroom, ensuring
that our students left here with the same education?
Keven Yost: First of all, our IT people are incredible. I benefitted from having the technology I need in the classroom, in my office, or from home. I use a tablet monitor. All the classrooms are equipped with them, and I worked out problems on that rather than on the marker boards in the classrooms. That way, I could capture it on video. I've historically provided videos of my lectures to students. When things are normal, I do that anyway and make it available to students to watch after the fact, if they want to go back and revisit any of the material. I was probably in a strong position when we shifted to remote learning because I could continue doing the same things that I do.
Has the experience with remote classrooms somehow made you better? If so, how?
Keven Yost: “I used a lot of technology in my classroom anyway, even though it wasn't an online class, at least for my undergraduate students. For my graduate students, we do have online sections, so I'm used to interacting with online students as well. But the use of Zoom for office hours and review sessions is really nice. It doesn't replace that in-person opportunity, but it does remove a lot of barriers for students to be able to interact with me, perhaps later in the day, when students aren't normally on campus. Or, if they have a question and they don't want to come to campus for office hours, they can connect with me that way. I think that part of the technology that I wasn't using, I will probably continue using moving forward."
You've seen a lot of students come through finance, whether as an undergraduate or
at the graduate level, and they've gone on to great careers. What makes our students,
and ultimately our graduates, stand out?
Keven Yost: “Part of our mission statement is to create highly-desired graduates. The professional preparation we have for our students, through the office of Professional and Career Development, through Graduate Career Services … that's something that really makes our students stand out. Our students are competing with the very best students at the very best schools. It's not just their knowledge of finance and other business disciplines. It's their career and professional development. Their interview skills, their resume preparation, all of those things.”