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Kenneth A. Kavajecz named dean of the Whitman School

Syracuse University Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric F. Spina earlier this month announced the appointment of Kenneth A. Kavajecz to the position of dean of the Martin J. Whitman School of Management effective July 1, 2013. Kavajecz [kuh-vy-YETZ] is the current chairman for the Department of Finance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is also a professor of finance. His appointment concludes a nationwide search to replace Dean Melvin T. Stith G’73, ’78, who in April 2012 announced plans to step down at the conclusion of the spring 2013 semester.

Kavajecz is an experienced academic administrator, having served successfully as associate dean for the undergraduate and M.B.A. programs at the Wisconsin School of Business. Under his leadership, both the undergraduate and M.B.A. programs at Wisconsin improved demonstrably, with the M.B.A. program moving into the top 25. He comes highly recommended as an ethical, passionate and decisive leader, and someone who has earned the respect of his faculty both as a leader and a scholar.

“I am extremely excited to partner with the Whitman School community—faculty, staff, students and alumni,” says Kavajecz, “to build off the successes of Dean Stith by enabling research excellence and innovative teaching, and engaging the Syracuse campus, the region and beyond in our mission.”

Kavajecz has focused much of his research on the structure of financial markets, with an expertise in liquidity, trading, risk management, market structure and regulation. His work has been published in the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, and the Review of Financial Studies.

Academic awards received by Kavajecz include the 2000 Financial Management Association best micro structure paper “Liquidity Provision during Circuit Breakers and Extreme Market Movements” and a nomination for the Smith Breeden Prize for the best paper in the Journal of Finance in 2005 for “Price Discovery in the U.S. Treasury Market: The Impact of Orderflow and Liquidity on the Yield Curve.” Kavajecz is also the recipient of the 2008 Gaumnitz Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award at the Wisconsin School of Business and the 1998 David W. Hauck Award for Outstanding Teaching in the undergraduate division at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor sees Kavajecz’s scholarly expertise and multi-faceted experience aligning well with the Whitman School’s and SU’s strengths. “Ken’s sensibility as a scholar has been to test what we think we know in the world, and he has brought that same emphasis on getting “out of the bubble” to his work as an academic leader, pursuing curricular innovations that integrate global awareness and career preparation. Approaches like these, bringing the world into the classroom and the classroom into the world, are among the hallmarks of the Whitman School and SU as a whole, so we are eager to work with Ken on playing to—and expanding—our strengths.”

Spina agrees, pointing to the impression that Kavajecz made throughout the search process. “The field of candidates was very strong, yet Ken stood out to the search committee and to me as someone with the right, broad set of talents and skills as an academic administrator, including not only a scholarly acumen that resonates with Whitman’s identity, but deep and successful experience in developing business programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels that are finely tuned to the needs and demands of the world. I believe that he will be an extraordinary leader for Whitman and SU.”

Kavajecz holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.S. and Ph.D. in finance from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Kavajecz has served as a member of the Economic Advisory Board for the National Association of Securities Dealers and has worked as an assistant economist at the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System.