In Associate Professor Jing Ai’s risk management class, students are taught to think of risks as a being closely linked to uncertainty. From market crashes to natural disasters, risk management or the process of identifying and assessing potential risks in order to minimize negative impact, plays a crucial role in a corporation’s decision making processes.
A risk can also be thought of as a deviation from the expected, something that Ai herself had experienced while a finance student at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Ai happened upon the study of risk management after taking a few newly-offered courses through the university’s School of Economics and Management. She was intrigued and looked to pursue her interest further.
“When I finished college and applied for graduate schools, I got an offer to pursue my Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin and study under one of the most prominent scholars in risk management and insurance,” said Ai. “I really started to become interested after entering the Ph.D. program and realizing how important risk management is to individuals, companies, governments, and society as a whole.”
What started as mere interest turned into a passion for Ai, who went on to become one of the top Ph.D. graduates in risk management. After receiving her tenure, Ai was offered the First Insurance Company of Hawaii (FICOH) Distinguished Professorship at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Shidler College of Business as part of the college’s ongoing efforts to recruit and retain world-class faculty. Established in 2007, the FICOH Distinguished Professorship was made possible through FICOH’s $500,000 gift matched one-to-one by Jay H. Shidler’s $25 million gift made to the college in 2006.
“Private support for faculty endowments are critical to the college’s ability to recruit and retain world-class faculty who form the foundation of our quality education, teaching, and research endeavors,” said Vance Roley, dean of the Shidler College of Business and First Hawaiian Bank Chair of Leadership and Management. “Faculty have exponential impact on our students, programs, and reputation and are therefore key to our goal of becoming a top-ranked business school.”
Through the FICOH Distinguished Professorship, Ai teaches both undergraduate and graduate-level courses, continues to conduct critical research in risk management, is able to collaborate with leading scholars worldwide and attend conferences on the national and international level.
“I am personally very grateful and honored to be the first holder of the First Insurance Company of Hawaii Distinguished Professorship,” said Ai. “To receive such a special recognition relatively early on in my career has definitely helped motivate me to strive for excellence.”
Modeled after the FICOH Distinguished Professorship, Shidler College of Business’ First Hawaiian Bank Distinguished Professorship in Banking as well as the Family Business Center of Hawaiʻi Distinguished Professorship also strive to recruit and retain excellent faculty in their respective subjects, which in turn translates into a rich learning environment for students and the larger community.
“I believe professorships go a long way in greatly increasing the quality of research and education at the college,” said Ai. “This in turn benefits our students, local business communities, and other stakeholders far into the future.”