Whether you are like the optimistic bull – which sees the economy on an upswing – or the pessimistic bear – which sees it sliding – you want businesses to succeed. Business vitality can dictate our livelihoods and increase our standards of living and quality of life.

“A thriving economy and job market help society in both the short and the long run,” said Jay Ritter, the Joseph B. Cordell Eminent Scholar in the department of finance at the University of Florida.

“In the short run people are less stressed out if they can find a job that fits their skills and interests. I focus more on the long run, thinking about why is it that the standards of living are so much higher than they were 50 years ago; what can be done that will make our standards of living even higher 10 years from now, 20 years from now?”

Ritter does this by valuing companies and estimating their profitability. As a go-to academic expert, he advises the media, global governments and small to large companies on initial public offerings (IPOs), investment banking, general and global market trends and finance.

Often referred to as “Mr. IPO,” he also passes his insight on to UF undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. students, helping them use the fundamentals of finance to ask provocative questions and see things in a new light. For example, Ritter draws a parallel between Darwinian survival in nature and in the business world.

“I have a pond in my yard that amphibians use for laying their eggs and breeding. Some plants and creatures will show up on their own, some will thrive, and when the prey population gets too big, the predator population increases,” he said.

Similar to the life cycle of a pond, Ritter illustrates that businesses are most likely to survive when they adapt to their evolving environment.

“Nature strikes a balance and companies have to constantly evolve.”

The organized stacks of papers on Jay Ritter’s desk illustrate his many crucial roles as the Joseph B. Cordell Eminent Scholar in the department of finance at the University of Florida.

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Joe B. Cordell Eminent Scholar Chair in Corporate Development and Strategy

“If there’s a question I have about what’s happening in the ‘real world’ outside academia, Coleman Cordell is one of the people I reach out to,” said Jay Ritter, who holds the Joe B. Cordell Eminent Scholar Chair in Corporate Development and Strategy. “This relationship assists both my teaching and my research.”

Coleman’s father, Joe Cordell, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Florida in 1949, established the endowed chair – one of the earliest at UF – to benefit the Warrington College of Business.

Cordell retired as president and CEO of Walter Industries where he began his career as CFO in 1958 at age 30. Walter Industries was a Florida-based holding company that owns home building, natural resources development and industrial manufacturing companies. He received the UF Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1977 and was president of the UF Foundation Board of Directors from 1979 to 1980. Cordell passed away in 1992.

Coleman received both his B.S.B.A. and M.B.A. from the University of Florida and today is managing director of Bank of America Securities in Winter Park, Florida. Coleman, who serves on the UF Warrington College Business Advisory Council, was previously with UBS Securities and had been a member of Morgan Stanley’s Public Finance Department for more than 12 years. His focus is on public finance with heavy emphasis on infrastructure financing and refinancing.