Skip to main content
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Full Article

Visit Apply Give

Dudney Retires After 27 Years at the University

Innovative Educator Starts Distinctive Programs at College of Business
Dudney Retires After 27 Years at the University
Donna Dudney, associate professor of finance, retires after 27 years of teaching, research and service at the College of Business.

Donna Dudney, associate professor of finance, founding director of the Nebraska Business Honors Academy and former assistant and associate dean, retires from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in May, marking a 27-year career. Her accomplishments range from more than 20 publications, multiple teaching and service awards and establishing many distinctive programs at College of Business.

Dudney and a student.
Dudney started as a senior lecturer of finance in 1997.

"When there was a vision for a program, Donna helped create the infrastructure needed to support the program and then helped find the right entrepreneurial-minded person to lead the program. An innovative educator, she helped build the Nebraska Business Honors Academy, the Clifton Strengths Institute, the Teaching and Learning Center, the Business and Law minor and major, along with other major initiatives in the college and on campus," said Kathy Farrell, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean and professor of finance.

Dudney earned her Ph.D. in finance from the University of Nebraska and her and her Master of Arts in Finance degree at Nebraska. She became a senior lecturer in finance in 1997, teaching large lecture classes in the former College of Business Administration building at 12th and R streets. She was promoted to a tenure-track assistant professor in 1999. 

"The Department of Finance has always been like a second family to me. I’ve been blessed to have great leaders in the department, like chairs Manferd Peterson, professor emeritus of finance; Gordon Karels, professor emeritus of finance; Richard DeFusco, department chair and professor of finance; and Kathy Farrell, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean and professor of finance, and wonderful long-time colleagues like John Geppert, professor emeritus of finance. All of them emphasized social connections and made sure that everyone in the department felt included," Dudney said.

When Karels became an associate dean at the College of Business, he sometimes needed to miss the large lecture class he taught. He asked Dudney, who was finishing her dissertation at the time, to teach for him.

"I conducted a midterm course evaluation to see how I could improve the class experience for the students. One of the first evaluations I read stated, 'Have Professor Dudney teach the rest of the semester.' Several others responded similarly. After that, I knew we needed to hire Donna as a faculty member. Certainly no regrets. She was an outstanding colleague, and we were lucky she did not get hired away from us," he said. 

Dudney with students and Warren Buffett.
Dudney taught Security Analysis and Warren Buffett Business Valuation Techniques (FINA 463) for many years and took students to meet the most famous Nebraska graduate in person.

One of the classes Dudney taught was Security Analysis and Warren Buffett, Business Valuation Techniques (FINA 463). For many years, she took students to meet the university's most famous alum, Warren Buffett, ’51, in person.

"The highlight of the class was visiting Warren Buffett every year. Over the years, he has invited hundreds of college students to his Buffett University Q&A sessions at Berkshire Hathaway’s headquarters," she said. "He would answer questions from students for over two hours and in the early years, Mr. Buffett would also pose for individual photos with each of our students, His sense of humor was on full display – he often pretended to whisper hot stock tips into the ears of students or allow students to steal his wallet from his back pants pocket for these photos. I even have a photo of Mr. Buffett down on one knee pretending to propose to one of our students!"

Karels asked Dudney to serve as assistant dean for the college in 2005. After four years, she returned to teaching finance and was promoted to associate professor in 2009. 

"I’m most proud of the things I was able to help start in the college. Former Dean Donde Plowman had the idea to start an honors program for exceptional students interested in attending the College of Business. She envisioned a cohort-based program that would offer unique educational experiences for students and asked me to bring this idea to life," Dudney said. "After developing and getting approval for the curriculum, I was smart enough to hire Erin Burnette, who was instrumental in recruiting and retaining students and took over as director three years after its formation. Under her direction, the reputation and prestige of the academy has continued to grow."

In 2015, Dudney became associate dean for undergraduate programs and student engagement, a role she continued to hold under Dean Kathy Farrell's leadership until June of 2021. 

"I helped start the Clifton Builders Program after the transformational gift given by the Clifton family to start the Clifton Strengths Institute. The Clifton family’s vision was to create a program that would nurture and develop students who were interested in building businesses, teams or communities. I helped develop and get approval for the curriculum and structure of this program. Mark Pogue, the founding director of the Clifton Strengths Institute, and Timothy Hodges, its current executive director, have created amazing experiences for students in this program and provide a close-knit, supportive community to encourage young entrepreneurs," Dudney said.

When Farrell and Richard Moberly, dean of the College of Law, saw the need for a major that combines business training with legal knowledge, they asked Dudney to partner with the College of Law to develop a Business and Law minor and major.   

"After a year of developing the major and obtaining curriculum approvals at both colleges, the campus and system levels and the state level from the Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education, this interdisciplinary major was approved with the first students starting in fall 2022. This new major helped us to attract new students to the College of Business and will give graduates a competitive advantage in the job market," she said. 

Dudney was promoted to a tenure-track assistant professor in 1999.

Dudney’s research interests include market efficiency and market anomalies, fixed income, corporate governance and valuation. With expertise in municipal bonds, financial institutions and markets and banking, her publications include "Does the Quality of Financial Advice Affect Prices?" in the Financial Review; "The Impact of Rating Agency Reputation on Local Government Bond Yields" in the Journal of Financial Services Research; and "Return Attribution: A Modified Bootstrapping Approach" in the Journal of Accounting and Finance.

Most proud of receiving the university's Friends and Family Recognition Award (formerly the Parents Award for Contributions to Students), Dudney said it was because recipients of the award were nominated by the parents of students "who believe that the faculty member impacted the life of their son or daughter." She received the award three times.

Looking to the future, she plans to spend more time with family, especially her grandkids Calen, 4, and Layni, 2. She also plans to travel "as much as possible for as long as possible" and visit Italy in October.

"I will miss working on things that matter with people who are hard-working and fun to be around. I’ve been fortunate to work with creative and visionary people who supported and challenged me. I will miss seeing them regularly, but I’m sure they will remain lifelong friends," she said.

Published: May 2, 2024