Like a lot of married couples, Annette Poulsen and Jeff Netter have much in common. They were raised in hard-working families, and they grew up knowing that education would play a prominent role in their lives. They met at Ohio State, where each was pursuing a PhD in economics, and they honed their skills as research economists at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington. They're now award-winning professors in the banking and finance department at the Terry College of Business, and — pushing this togetherness thing to the hilt — they burn the midnight oil at home as co-editors of the Journal of Corporate Finance.
As dinner concludes on a typical evening at their west side Athens home, the heads of the Poulsen-Netter household cart leftovers to the kitchen as sons Joshua and JJ head upstairs to do their homework or play Halo. As they login into their computers and begin working from their own separate home offices within shouting distance across the hall — he on research papers that have been submitted for publication in the journal and she on departmental evaluations and class schedules — that's where the similarities between these two talented Terry professors end.
Poulsen, the Augustus H. "Billy" Sterne Professor of Banking and Finance Chair at Terry, is one of those people who thrives on routine. She likes to arrive at the office at a set time each day, and she is revered for both her research acumen and her administrative expertise, which frequently lands her on university-wide committees. Netter is a different animal entirely. Unceasingly funny and unpredictable, he is a thinking machine whose ideas multiply in direct proportion to the amount of time he spends talking about most any subject. Poulsen's daily routine is predicated on getting to bed at roughly the same time each night, whereas Netter's academic routine is anything but — including getting up in the middle of the night or during a break in the action at his kids' soccer games.
"He's an entertainer...he tells stories, he gets off track, and he's got hands waving all over the place!" Poulsen laughs, as she describes the way her Meigs Award-winning colleague and husband commands a classroom. Which is not her way.
"I went to watch Jeff because he has a reputation for being a great teacher," says Poulsen. "I learned that day that I could never teach the way he does. When he substitutes for me in any class, the students ask, 'Can he come back again?' And I say, 'No! You've got me, sorry!'"
The peripatetic Netter lauds Poulsen, a Distinguished Teacher Award recipient in her own right, for her ability to focus — and for her keen organizational skills that have been beneficial to him as far back as their years as doctoral students.
"I taught at Ohio State for three years before she arrived, and I did fine," says Netter. "But her notes were so great for a first-time teacher that I used them from that point forward. In terms of breaking down numbers and the execution of research, there aren't many better than Annette."
Netter is a big-picture guy whose résumé includes a law degree from Emory. He says what he thinks and expects the same from everyone else in the spirit of collegiality. Poulsen is more reserved, but also a highly capable department head with strong management skills. As co-managing editors of the Journal of Corporate Finance, they share a make-it-work mentality that is essential for any effective partnership. And by marrying their skill sets, their high professional standards — and their refreshing lack of pretense — they have made JCF one of the pre-eminent academic journals in its field.
"They have a very positive influence on the department because they both care deeply about teaching and research," says banking and finance professor Jim Linck, who is an award-winning instructor himself. "It's something you really shouldn't have to say, but it's not true everywhere. A lot of places, people get to a certain point and then start to not take both teaching and research as seriously. Jeff and Annette are strong teachers and researchers, and they try to establish incentives in our department to focus on high quality teaching and research."