Business Professor Celebrates 50 Years at St. John's University with New Book
For the last half century, Francis A. Lees, Ph.D., a Professor in Economics and Finance in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business, has shared his extensive knowledge in areas such as investment banking, market trading and international finance with his students, while pursuing successful careers as an author and consultant to several large businesses and governmental organizations.
Showing no signs of slowing down, he recently published, “Financial Exchanges,” a comprehensive analysis of how the 30 largest exchanges around the world revised their business models to cope with changing technology, new competition, new markets and regulatory reforms enacted after the recent financial crisis.
Remarking on his long career, Dr. Lees observed, “The world is an interesting place and the more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn.”
Several Careers, One Goal
Dr. Lees first arrived at St. John’s in 1960 after four years of teaching at Fordham University and a three-year tour of duty in the U.S. army. He earned his Ph.D. from New York University in 1961 and worked on Wall Street for a year, before returning to St. John’s. Since that time, he has held several administrative positions at the University, published 14 books and monographs and presented research findings at numerous conferences throughout the world.
“I’ve been fortunate to have the freedom to do what I wanted to do — whether it’s research, writing, publishing or consulting. I have no complaints,” Dr. Lees noted.
He added that St. John’s proximity to Manhattan — the heart of the world’s financial center has been a great boon to his career. “The location is very advantageous. You have direct access to people and institutions.” Dr. Lees also taught French M.B.A. students at the University’s Manhattan campus when it was still The College of Insurance.
His many publications led to a parallel career as a consultant. Free to pursue topics that were critical to understanding often-volatile market behavior, he has developed an expertise that has been sought by the Central Bank for Cooperatives, the Conference Board (New York) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In 1987, he was awarded a Fulbright Grant to study the banking and financial systems of Brazil.
Dr. Lees remains strongly committed to teaching and strives to provide his students with a comprehensive view of world financial markets and the factors that influence them. He has served as Assistant Dean in the College of Business and was Chairman of the Department of Economics and Finance for 16 years. He helped found the University’s Business Research Institute and was Executive Director of the Center for Global Education.
“If you’re teaching finance today, there’s an underlying problem of which we’re all aware — greed and despicable behavior. In our courses, we discuss the evils of the world and the need to value ethical standards of conduct. Students need to be aware of these problems and I try to convey that to them at all times.”