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Deborah Harrell: Investment Expert, Recreational Biker, Animal Lover

Deborah Harrell works with a student.

Deborah Harrell works with a student.

At UT: At UT since 1990, Deborah Harrell is an associate professor in the Department of Finance and the Haslam College of Business Investments Professor. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate students. She is also the faculty advisor for the Haslam College of Business’s two student-managed real-money investment funds, the Haslam and LaPorte Torch Funds. For many years, she taught in the Haslam College of Business’s executive graduate program in Taiwan.

Why she chose this field: Teaching always appeared to be in the cards for Harrell. “Since I was seven or eight years old, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always wanted to be a teacher.”

After earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida, Harrell worked in the corporate world for about a decade before returning to school to pursue her doctorate at the University of Florida.

Although teaching the subject matter is very important, she thinks it’s also critical to teach ethics, diversity, and appreciation for others. “I am very aware of the impact that people make in terms of the directions of one’s life,” said Harrell. “So as a teacher, I am very aware of the potential impact I may have on students, not just in teaching materials, but also guiding individuals in their life path. My roles as a mentor and as a teacher are of equal importance.”

Outside interests: To unwind, Harrell meditates, practices yoga, and plays golf. “I’m also a motorcycle rider—purely for local pleasure,” she said.

If I didn’t do this, I’d: “Own or manage a rescue shelter for dogs and cats. The big dream would be to live on a big farm with a large house and take in rescue animals.” Harrell owns a rescue dog named Dottie.

The moment that makes her job worth it: “I’m with the group of students involved in the Torch fund for an entire year versus just one semester. I’ll start with them in the fall and then a year later watch them present their performance results to Jim Haslam, Mr. LaPorte, and the Torch Fund Professional Advisory Group. Over that year, the growth and maturity as well as knowledge gained by these students gives me a moment of amazement and pride,” she said. “Many of these students join the fund without a background in finance. The year is just an amazing transformation, and we sincerely appreciate the opportunity Mr. Haslam and Mr. LaPorte have afforded our students by sponsoring these funds.”

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