As a Fulbright Visiting Scholar from Vietnam National University (VNU), Tu Tran could have conducted her postdoctoral research on bank governance at any number of business schools across the United States.
Tran, an associate professor of finance and the head of the Department of Finance and Banking at VNU’s University of Economics and Business, chose the Manning School of Business because of her connection to Asst. Prof. of Finance Hieu Phan. The two scholars met several years ago when Phan attended a seminar in his native Vietnam.
“When I applied to become a Fulbright Scholar, I knew UMass Lowell was my best choice because we have that working relationship,” Tran says. “I wanted to take this opportunity to open this collaboration with our university.”
Tran, who is the Manning School’s first Fulbright Visiting Scholar, arrived in late September for a five-month stay. She and Phan are conducting research for a working paper on how board composition affects the risk-taking of banks.
“Because the 2008 financial crisis was mostly due to the risk-taking of banks and financial institutions, it is a good lesson for Vietnam to learn, as well,” Phan says.
In addition to her research work, Tran is also examining how universities are managed in the United States. One major difference she has noticed between UML and her home institution is the number of women in leadership positions, including Chancellor Jacquie Moloney and Manning School Dean Sandra Richtermeyer.
“My university also faces some of the same obstacles as here in the U.S.: how to recruit high-quality students, how to improve the quality of professors, how to publish in top-tier journals,” Tran says.
Richtermeyer, who welcomed Tran at several Manning School events during the fall, including the DifferenceMaker Innovation Contest, says the Fulbright Scholar’s visit is mutually beneficial.
“We are so excited to have Dr. Tran here sharing her expertise on financial institutions, banking and corporate governance,” Richtermeyer says. “She’s a leader, and having her insight and perspective is good for our school.”
Tran and Phan are exploring several ways to build on the collaboration between the two schools. They hope to co-host a conference next year in Vietnam, with support from the Fulbright Program in Asia. Tran has also been in discussions with Assoc. Teaching Prof. Ashwin Mehta to incorporate her school into the Global Entrepreneurship Exchange program.
The perspective that Tran brings, as someone coming from a developing country, is valuable, Phan says.
“She talks about issues we have not thought about before, which is very important for promoting new research ideas,” he says.
The Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program provides grants of up to $30,000 to approximately 850 academics from over 100 countries each year. Recipients can conduct postdoctoral research at U.S. institutions from an academic semester to a full academic year.