From Stats to Class

Professor Gary Witt’s academic career began in the late 1980s when he completed his Ph.D. in statistics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. But it wasn’t until 2008 that he returned to higher education as a professor at Temple University. Today, he is an assistant professor of finance practice at the Whitman School, teaching corporate finance to every undergraduate student at the college.

“When I finished my doctorate, friends I knew from graduate school encouraged me to join them working in New York City,” said Professor Witt. “I decided that might be fun for a couple of years. But a couple years turned into 20 as I pursued a career in finance in New York and London.”

Professor Witt worked in derivatives, structured finance and investment management at various firms, including Sakura Global Capital, General Re and Prudential Securities. He also served as managing director at Moody’s Investors Service, where he created its operational risk rating team focused on hedge funds and led the mutual fund rating team that primarily rated money market and bond funds worldwide.

Professor Witt said he learned a great deal through his professional experiences, including one job that was most formative for him at Citibank in the early 1990s.

“I was a statistics guy and didn’t know all that much about finance,” he explained. “So I decided to take a pay cut and work for a well-known options theory specialist who taught at New York University, Georges Courtadon. Working for him gave me such a thorough grounding in finance that I was able to trade interest rate derivatives professionally for the next ten years.”

While his days at Whitman are mostly filled with teaching, he also still enjoys pairing statistics and finance and his research pedigree further illustrates his pension for renewable energy, climate change and applied mathematics.

“I developed a financial model while at Moody’s that incorporated correlation into the default distribution of bond portfolios. I was able to demonstrate its application to toxicology studies in one recent paper that was accepted by Communications in Statistics: Theory and Methods,” he said. “I enjoy combining data analysis with relevant theories to illustrate the usefulness of mathematical models.”

Professor Witt’s area of expertise also includes ratings agencies, international finance and applied statistics. When he’s not in the classroom teaching fixed income, as well as corporate finance, he is supporting Whitman’s career placement efforts, helping to identify the best students for the School’s many financial recruiters. He has also been a guest speaker at the Investment Club on campus.

Originally from east Texas, near Dallas, he lives in Syracuse with his wife and enjoys reading and walking in his spare time.