For Mary Tone Rodgers, winning the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching culminates an impactful and successful time inside and outside SUNY Oswego’s classrooms.

Rodgers came to SUNY Oswego in 2012 as the college’s first-ever endowed faculty member, the Marcia Belmar Willock Endowed Professor of Finance. In the decade since, she has used more than 30 years of experience on Wall Street as well as her intelligence, personal skills and student-first approach remarkably, nominators noted.

“An accomplished educator, Dr. Rodgers is adept at teaching a broad range of financial topics to diverse audiences and in a range of modes,” wrote nominator Richard Skolnik, who hired her while dean of the School of Business and continues to teach in that school. In addition to teaching core courses, Rodgers developed new classes to meet student needs –- with shining student reviews and tangible outcomes throughout, he added.

“She introduces students to financial information resources through projects that require utilization of the college’s Bloomberg terminal,” Skolnik wrote. “In the ‘Commercial Credit’ seminar, she wrote a case study that was accepted for publication by a peer-reviewed journal. The case was enhanced by inviting alumni with commercial loan experience to participate in the case discussion.”

Rodgers has published research in financial market crises in prestigious journals including the Journal of Economic History, Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Research in Economic History and Review of Financial Economics, also acting as guest co-editor of a special issue in that publication. Rodgers has included students in data analysis for her research.

Additionally, she was appointed the Chandler Research Fellow in Business History at Harvard Business School, and as a select participant in a Federal Reserve workshop on financial crises. 

'Dedication to students'

“Her consummate dedication to students through service, engagement and experiential learning is evidenced with student and alumni outcomes and support,” wrote Irene Scruton, assistant dean of the School of Business and director of the college’s master of business administration (MBA) programs –- where Rodgers is a popular teacher. 

“Using her Merrill Lynch career experience, she offers our students a significant understanding of working professional responsibilities balanced with the academic rigors of the course,” Scruton noted. “Mary is gifted in providing students with content relevancy for immediate application to students’ work environments.”

“Mary’s dedication to students includes taking extra steps for them on the job market,” economics professor Ranjit Dighe wrote. “Many of the top financial firms tend to hire almost exclusively from Ivy League and other elite schools, and Mary works her connections at Merrill (and perhaps other firms) to help our students who are well qualified but otherwise might not get an interview.”

Rodgers showcases “an extraordinary commitment to student learning outside of the classroom,” Skolnik wrote. “She is the faculty advisor of the Student Investment Club, which manages a portfolio of over $600,000 and is organized similarly to a professionally managed fund. … Experience gained in the investment club has enabled students to secure competitive positions in the financial industry.” 

Rodgers –- who also earned the SUNY Oswego President's Award for Excellence in Academic Advisement and an Open SUNY Award for Online Teaching Excellence –- has advised and prepared student teams who have placed well in the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge.

Inspiration and mentor

Ruth Perez, a 2015 SUNY Oswego graduate who since has worked in the finance industry including as a vice president at JPMorgan Chase in New York City, spoke of Rodgers’ value as an inspiration and role model.

“As a young woman in college, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in finance but lacked the confidence to believe that I could do so,” Perez wrote, noting that Rodgers' classes served as daily inspiration. “I distinctly remember the first time I met Professor Rodgers, and I was struck by her gravitas, confidence and warm nature; I knew that I wanted her not only as a professor but also as a mentor. Seeing how she carried herself and the career she had built gave me confidence that I could aspire to the same.”

When Dillon Nimako, a 2019 SUNY Oswego graduate, scored an interview with Goldman Sachs while a student, Rodgers “was willing to help with everything I asked for, and all I didn’t ask for help on, but certainly needed it.” 

“This included interview advice, a full-scale technical review, and even a mock interview based on her experiences on Wall Street,” Nimako, now an investment analyst with Barings, recalled. “Although she was busy teaching classes, conducting research, and providing mentorship to the other 1,000+ students in the business school, she made it as if I was her sole priority; completely dedicated to my success in this particular endeavor.”

“Through multiple classes as a professor, as an advocate and presenter for the Dress for Success event that my collegiate club hosted, and as the faculty advisor to my CFA Institute Research Challenge team, Dr. Rodgers has consistently provided the guidance and motivation for me to find my purpose and the joys in learning something new every day,” wrote Mark Prezioso, a 2017 SUNY Oswego graduate who is now senior pricing analyst with Constellation Brands.

“Dr. Rodgers opened the door for me to work on projects such as a $4 billion acquisition, managing and reporting on a complex wine and spirits operational budget, and in my new role, I’ll be formulating pricing strategies in international markets and providing pricing support for new product development,” Prezioso wrote, adding that Rodgers’ “spirit of continuous improvement and growth” continues to inspire tackling new challenges and opportunities.

The award comes as Rodgers transitions to teaching part time for SUNY Oswego’s MBA program while starting work on a new book for Cambridge University Press.

Rodgers earned her Ph.D. in finance from Pace University, an MBA in finance from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s in education from Carelton College.