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The Professor Is In: Ron Filante

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Lubin Professor Ron Filante, PhD, talks love, Silence of the Lambs, the importance of inquisitiveness, and a dream dinner with Serena Williams in this month’s "The Professor Is In."

Lubin Professor of Finance Ron Filante, PhD, exposes students to real-world experiences through the Pace Student Managed Investment Portfolio, which regularly outperforms the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P. For nearly 30 years, Filante has helped Pace students achieve their dreams in finance and investment, while following his dreams of working in higher education. In this month’s “The Professor Is In,” Filante puts aside his love of finance and shares his favorite quotes from The Godfather, why he would choose to be a talk show host if he could go back in time, and why it is important to appreciate what is special and unique about yourself.

What was one thing or person that made you passionate about your current career?

A very supportive professor who taught the first economics course I took as an undergrad, Babette Solon. She convinced me that a career in higher education fit my skill set and offered a wonderful work-life balance. And…she was right!

What quality do you most value in your students?

Inquisitiveness; asking follow-up questions, especially those that begin with, “How can I find out more about that?”

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?

Study harder than you think you have to! Moreover, take advantage of your professors’ office hours. The opportunity to learn in a tutorial, one-on-one setting, is invaluable. Think Socrates and Plato.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you choose? What profession would you not choose?

Talk show host because I have a face for radio, and find most people very interesting subjects. Or dentistry—somehow I thought in high school that this would be a good career choice. Biology 101 dissuaded me, thank you very much.

What is your favorite word? Least favorite word?

Love, but only when used in reference to people, and enjoy, especially when uttered by waiters in Italian restaurants. 

What is your guilty pleasure TV show or mobile app?

Re-watching Silence of the Lambs and The Godfather. The dialogue reveals many of life’s true lessons. The exchanges between Hannibal and Clarice are priceless, as are the lessons learned from mobsters such as “this is the life we have chosen” and “we finally have a partner in the government.” The latter explains much corporate behavior in the world today.

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?

Economic History—cliometrics has addressed and settled many of the burning questions that historians debated throughout the centuries. This is especially true of the economics of slavery in the US. Biology was my least favorite because I never got it.

If you were a Pace student, what class would you like to take with another Pace professor?

Psychology because social science needs to understand human behavior before it can better explain and predict the actions and motivations of countries and their leaders. This especially applies to economics and finance where the notion that humans are rational flies in the face of most behavior we observe in ourselves and others.

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?

Take my dog Winslow to the dog park in New Rochelle. It’s a real education to watch these animals interact, not to mention the behavior of the dog owners—a most neurotic group of individuals.

What is your favorite professional or personal journey/experience?

Fatherhood—the perfect cure for selfishness. Apparently, some data suggest that childless people are happier, but I don’t agree. 

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?

“Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”—R.I.P. Whitney. Many of us spend too much time denigrating ourselves. Enough! Yes, improve where you can, but please appreciate what is wonderful and special about yourself.

If you could have any five people living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?

Jesus, Mohammed, MLK, Gloria Steinem, and Serena Williams. The first two would tell me what they think of 21st century religious practices and messages they’d deliver to their adherents. Martin Luther King would explain what happened to non-violent solutions to the world’s problems. Ms. Steinem and I would spend hours re-wiring my brain into one that sees, treats, and appreciates women as they’d prefer. Finally, I’d like to have Serena, the world’s greatest athlete, explain how she can do things no one has ever done before, without performance enhancing drugs.

Have a suggestion for the next installment of The Professor Is In? E-mail us.