The end of an illustrious career: George E. Morgan retires from Finance instruction at Virginia Tech
After more than 40 years of inspiring curiosity and progression, George E. Morgan has decided to step into a new stage of life.
How does one properly highlight the essence of a professional tenure that is replete with progress and achievement?
Morgan, a Truist Professor of Finance, was not a professor who sought the advancement of his agenda, rather, he often saw himself as “a type of entrepreneur.” However, not an entrepreneur who creates a company that is profit-driven, but one who “creates courses and opportunities for students.”
It is not surprising to hear that he wanted to elevate his students – he has been doing it for decades, and has done so at all three levels of higher education. Beginning with undergraduate studies, moving on to graduate studies, and finally, moving into doctoral programs.
As a researcher, he’s studied the disciplinary decisions financial regulators have had to make regarding banks. He’s also examined foreign exchange markets, risks and interest rates, futures trading, management and regulation of commercial banks, among a whole host of other subjects in the field of finance.
As a lifelong learner, Morgan has dedicated himself to attaining knowledge. He began his professional education at Georgetown University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1973. From there, he moved on to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he earned his master’s degree in 1975 and his Ph.D. in 1977.
When speaking to Morgan about his journey as a student, he mentioned several things, the first being that he took his journey “step-by-step,” without much initial planning. Despite the beginning of his academic career being based on the idea of taking each day as it came, Morgan continued to find his way, absorbing the opportunities life brought him.
Morgan initially planned to attend graduate school, but the details of that plan shifted after a few hiccups, mainly when he “stumbled across something” that truly changed his direction.
Morgan encountered a finance professor who provided direction in his life, igniting a path toward his own career as a finance professor. He recounted that his experience “stimulated my interest in what I thought was economics,” but that the professor convinced him that what he was “really interested in was finance.”
After a stint as a federal banking regulator, the first stop in his journey as an educator began when he became an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin, before beginning his tenure at Virginia Tech.
Once he reached Virginia Tech, the ladder to both his accomplishments and contributions grew immensely.
Morgan created multiple courses, such as his course on credit analysis and a course on the commercialization of wireless technologies. He also spearheaded the creation of BASIS (Bond And Securities Investing by Students), where he led students to manage over $5 million in the investment-grade bond market. By creating BASIS, and acting as its faculty advisor since its inception in 2006, Morgan has transformed the lives of more than 200 students who were able to embark on successful and satisfying professional careers in the financial world that would have been very difficult otherwise. Along the way, the group became the largest student-run fixed income money management “business” in the country.
“George has been an outstanding member of the university through his extraordinary contributions to research and teaching and by setting high standards for everyone including himself, and by changing the trajectory of experiential learning at the university through his founding and stewardship of BASIS,” said Vijay Singal, department head and J. Gray Ferguson Professor of Finance.
Morgan has served in numerous roles. He served as the interim head of the Department of Finance, Insurance, and Business Law as well as operated as the director of the department’s Ph.D. program. He served as a Visiting Scholar at the CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) and as a Visiting Lecturer at International Space University in Strasbourg, Alsace, France. He’s also been an executive director for the Center for Wireless Telecommunications (CWT).
“It’s been 39 years here at Virginia Tech, but that was not part of the plan,” said Morgan. “The odds are that, in academic careers, people don’t stay in one place that long.”
When asked why he’s remained at Virginia Tech, he stated that the “department has been very good,” and that “nothing else seemed to fit.” He added that there are “lots of good things about the people at Virginia Tech,” and that “the quality of the university and its continued emphasis on quality” were among some of the many reasons why he stayed.
Morgan went on to mention how Virginia Tech has kept him more “involved, interested, and engaged,” things are not so easily replicated at other institutions.
Although he has been a highly distinguished professor for many years, Morgan is a man with a life that amounts to more than simply a professor of finance.
As Morgan steps into retirement, he plans to spend some of his leisure time running and reading. One would expect such a learner to enjoy reading, but Morgan was once an avid soccer player. This interest has trickled into his continuing to exercise his athletic interests as a runner. Morgan has run all over, including Barcelona, Spain, a place he described as “gorgeous.”
Morgan may be done teaching in the classroom, but his wisdom will never cease to inspire.
“There is so much here at Virginia Tech that you can take advantage of,” he said. “Don’t let it pass you by.”
- Written by Matt V. Johnson