Whaley named winner of SEC Faculty Achievement Award

Robert E. Whaley, Valere Blair Potter Professor of Finance and director of Vanderbilt’s Financial Markets Research Center. (Vanderbilt University)

Robert Whaley, Valere Blair Potter Professor of Finance at the Owen Graduate School of Management, is Vanderbilt’s winner of the 2019 Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award.

The awards, now in their eighth year, are an initiative of SECU, the academic arm of the Southeastern Conference, and recognize senior faculty at SEC institutions with outstanding records in teaching, research and scholarship. One winner is chosen from each school and is nominated for the SEC Professor of the Year. In winning the award, Whaley received a $5,000 honorarium.

Whaley is best known for creating the Volatility Index (VIX), often referred to as “the fear index,” which protects investors against broad-based market swings. His work on risk contributes to the efficiency and stability of global financial networks, which are a direct indicator of the health of the world’s interconnected economies.

“Professor Whaley is renowned for his research and work focusing on topics of market volatility,” Susan R. Wente, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs said. “His academic achievements, as well as his innovation and service, have contributed greatly to the Owen Graduate School of Management and the Vanderbilt community.”

Whaley’s transformative research papers have been recognized with numerous awards, including the Graham and Dodd Scrolls for Excellence in Financial Writing from the Financial Analysts Journal in 1986 and 1987 and the Bernstein Fabozzi/Jacobs Levy Award for Outstanding Article published in the Journal of Portfolio Management during the volume years 1999-2000 and 2008-09. His papers have been downloaded from the Social Sciences Research Network more than 20,000 times, reflecting the significance of his contributions to our understanding of market volatility, market microstructure and relative performance options.

An industry leader, Whaley received the 1989 Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award for innovation in finance research; the 1993 Earl M. Combs, Jr. Award for contributions to the futures industry; a Chicago Board Options Exchange 40th Anniversary Award for contributions to listed options markets in 2013; the 2015 Joseph W. Sullivan Options Industry Achievement Award; and the 2015 William F. Sharpe Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifetime contributions to indexing.

Whaley began his extensive teaching career in the Owen Graduate School of Management in 1978, and returned to Vanderbilt in 2006 following professorships at the University of Alberta, the University of Chicago and Duke University. In addition to teaching courses in derivative markets, bond markets and applied investment management in the Master of Business Administration program, he serves as the director of the Financial Markets Research Center and as chairman of the Master of Science in Finance Advisory Board.

“Our MBA program is strong and highly ranked in large part due to Professor Whaley’s exceptional teaching and contributions to the program,” said M. Eric Johnson, dean of the Owen Graduate School of Management.

To be eligible for the SEC Faculty Achievement Award, a candidate must be a teacher or scholar at an SEC university, have achieved the rank of full professor, have a record of extraordinary teaching, and have a record of scholarship that is recognized nationally and/or internationally. A committee of SEC provosts chooses the winners.

The SEC Faculty Achievement Awards and the SEC Professor of the Year Award are part of SECU, the academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference, which sponsors, supports and promotes collaborative higher education programs and activities involving administrators, faculty and students at its 14 member universities.