May 13, 2014

Big Ideas: Donna Dudney

Donna Dudney
In her 17 years at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business Administration, Dr. Donna Dudney has served in numerous roles from lecturer to finance professor to assistant dean. In her latest position as director of the CBA Honors Academy, she oversees the newly created academy and also teaches the required finance course to the academy students.

“The Honors Academy is a game-changer for CBA, providing a unique program that attracts the best students from Nebraska and around the country. We’re building a community of high-achieving students who will become our future business leaders in the state and have a global impact,” Dudney said.

The academy students take more rigorous versions of the core and foundation business classes together as a cohort. They also participate in a monthly leadership skills workshops and corporate networking events.

Donna Dudney with honors student

Dudney advising honors student Kelly Schatz

“They are a close-knit group. Most of the students say the academy has become a second family for them. They are highly motivated, engaged students and it is fun to be able to get to know them outside the classroom,” she said. “They will do great things, and I’ll be able to say I knew them before they were famous.”

Prior to leading the Honors Academy, Dudney was awarded the UNL Parent’s Award for Contributions to Students three times as a finance professor. She also has an extensive list of publications focusing on financial institutions, markets, investing and managerial economics.

Dr. Gordie Karels, associate dean for research and graduate programs and research at CBA, believes Dudney’s professional experience before joining the college is a big part of her successful research portfolio.

“Her background in investment banking and security analysis provides insight particularly in the areas of the cost of external certification and market timing,” Karels said. “It helps as a guide to both public policy and investor decision-making.”

Dudney worked for the public finance department at FirsTier Bank for seven years starting as a municipal bond underwriting representative and ending as the vice president of public finance. At the time, FirsTier was the largest bank in Nebraska, and one of the only banks in the region with a municipal bond underwriting department.

After earning her Ph.D. from CBA, she taught four years in Omaha before joining the faculty at CBA. One of her favorite courses to teach is the Buffett Investment Methodology course, where she annually takes students to meet Warren Buffett, a 1951 CBA graduate.

“The top 20 students in the class have the opportunity to visit Mr. Buffett for a day-long event at Berkshire Hathaway’s corporate headquarters. They get to ask him questions in a two-hour session and then eat a steak lunch with him. Mr. Buffett has allowed CBA to attend this event every year for the past seven years,” she said.

Dudney also served as assistant dean of the college from 2005-09. She enjoyed being involved in the strategic direction of CBA, but her passion for teaching ultimately made her decision to return to the classroom an easy one.

“I loved teaching from the moment I set foot in the classroom. The challenge and variety of teaching is what I love most, and there is nothing more fulfilling than watching a student gain skills and confidence go on to become highly successful.”