Surendra Singh Singhvi, PhD ’67, spent his career with his feet in two worlds — a position familiar to many who work in academia, as he did. 

Throughout his career, Singhvi taught, as a professor of finance at Miami University and the University of New Hampshire, and also worked in industry, serving in senior executive roles at Armco Steel (now AK Steel Holdings) and Edison Brothers Stores (a now-shuttered retail conglomerate).

Singhvi, who is now retired, says his years spent navigating both worlds simultaneously left him with a strong conviction about the necessity of balancing teaching, consulting, research, and publishing. “Academics must bring theory to practice and bring practice to the classroom and research,” Singhvi says. “So academics should be encouraged to get involved in consulting — within a limit.”

“Within a limit” are the key words here: Though Singhvi strongly believes practical experience benefits professors and their students — after all, Singhvi sought out his job at Armco Steel after earning his PhD because he felt he needed more real-world corporate experience — he also knows the balance can easily tip too far toward consulting, especially because of the financial incentives from the corporate world. But an overfocus on consulting work can come at a sharp cost to students, who need their professors equally focused on the classroom, Singhvi says. 

In the early 1980s, Singhvi alighted on an idea he believed could help motivate instructors in higher education to find the proper balance, and he brought it to Columbia Business School: He envisioned an endowment fund with an annual prize benefitting outstanding educators. Crucially, prize recipients would be chosen by students. 

Singhvi recalls that the inspiration for the innovative fund was sparked in part by a policy at Armco Steel, his employer at the time, which matched every dollar of charitable donations from employees with a dollar of its own. Singhvi wondered how a similar concept could be applied to institutions of higher learning, to incentivize a different sort of giving back — from busy faculty members to students. He brought his idea for an endowment fund for professors to then-CBS Dean John Burton, who enthusiastically signed off on it. 

Thus was born the Singhvi Prize for Scholarship in the Classroom, which was first bestowed in 1984 and has since awarded more than 30 CBS professors with a $3,000 check, along with a glass plaque and Singhvi’s joke book and happiness books. The 2023 prize was awarded to two CBS professors, Glenn Hubbard and Tano Santos. Singhvi notes that the endowment still holds sufficient funds to offer the prize to many CBS professors to come. 

“We hope that other business schools will consider having a similar endowment for professors to help maintain a balance between academic and consulting activities,” Singhvi says.

Importantly, Singhvi adds, the bridge between academic and industry goes two ways, and academics have valuable skills to lend to the corporations they work with. For his part, Singhvi developed and presented a course on finance and accounting for non-finance executives when he was working in industry. 

His course was attended by more than 500 individuals, and he was asked to present in France, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, the Philippines, Germany, and Argentina, as well as to the US Department of Commerce. 

“This reflects an academician's contribution to the practical business world,” Singhvi notes.


Learn more about the Singhvi Prize for Scholarship in the Classroom.


Class of 2023 Singhvi Prize Winners: Dean Emeritus Glenn Hubbard, PhD, and Professor Tano Santos, PhD


Previous winners:


2022: Angela Lee


2021: Medini Singh


2020: Daniel Guetta


2019: Todd Jick


2018: Dan Wang


2017: Bruce Usher


2016: Sharon Katz 


2015: Medini Singh


2014: David Juran 


2013: Wei Jiang


2012: David Beim


2011: Jerry Kim


2010: Michael Feiner


2009: Todd Jick


2008: Alan Brott


2007: Bruce Greenwald


2006: Laurie Simon Hodrick


2005: Laurie Simon Hodrick


2004: Bruce Greenwald, Michael Feiner


2003: Bruce Greenwald


2002: Ray Horton


2001: Charles Jones


2000: E. Ralph Biggadike


1999: Deen Kemsley


1998: Dennis Caplan


1997: Laurie Simon Hodrick


1996: John Whitney


1995: Larry Selden


1994: Robert Bontempo


1993: Averil Brent


1992: Bruce Greenwald


1991: Frank Macchiarola


1990: Safwan Masri


1989: John Whitney


1988: Donald Hambrick


1987: John Donaldson


1986: Donna Sockell


1985: Trevor Harris


1984: Michel Amselem