UC Irvine Attracts Stock Expert to Management School

Times Staff Writer

A University of Chicago professor and nationally known expert in stock market risk has been recruited by UC Irvine's Graduate School of Management, the second big-name finance professor to join the growing business school in as many months.

Nai-fu Chen, 38, turned down an endowed chair at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana to take the UCI post at $85,600, according to Dennis Aigner, dean of the UCI Management School. Chen, along with finance professor Robert Haugen, who was recently lured from UC Riverside for $125,000 a year, will help revamp UCI's graduate finance curriculum and expand programs for working executives, Aigner said.

"This was quite a coup," Aigner said Wednesday. "An endowed chair represents a solid guarantee backed up by gold in Ft. Knox."

Chen, who holds Ph.D.s from UCLA and UC Berkeley, is best known for a 1986 article he published with two other finance experts entitled "Economic Forces and the Stock Market."

Aigner described the work, published in the University of Chicago Journal of Business, as "one of the most influential papers in finance."

His specialty is the effect that fundamental economic factors, such as production growth, interest rates and inflation, have on the stock market. His empirical approach measures investor risk.

Chen said that he looks forward to returning to California and that he sees great potential in UCI's graduate management school.

"Right now, the program is small, but since Orange County is exploding, I see a lot of opportunity for a very good school to become an excellent one in the very near future," he said in a telephone interview from Chicago.

"I see a lot of opportunity in terms of contributing to graduate business education and also bridging the gap between education and the local business community," he said. "And Southern California is like home to me."

Chen, who is now an associate professor of finance at University of Chicago, holds a doctorate in finance from UCLA and a doctorate in numerical analysis from Berkeley. In addition, he earned an MBA degree from UCLA and did post-doctoral work at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley.

He is expected to begin work here in the fall.

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