Jack Trifts, Ph.D., has been making valuable contributions in higher education for more than 35 years. He is a respected academic leader and accomplished researcher who has served as College of Business Dean at two major Universities, including a five-year term at Bryant. His research has been published in some of the most prestigious finance journals, including Financial Services Review and Financial Analysts Journal, and he has presented at conferences around the world.
But, it’s the classroom where Trifts does his most important and satisfying work.
A pioneer of the “flipped classroom” method of teaching at Bryant, Trifts says “there’s a place for lecturing, but it’s not in the classroom.” He records his lectures, and assigns students to watch before they come to class. The flipped classroom style of teaching allows faculty to optimize class time with students, leading to more engaged student-faculty interactions during class. “I want to spend more time pushing students to think about, analyze, and evaluate real and complex issues, such as how financial markets work and how to apply the tools of finance throughout a business,” he explains. “Education is not just about learning facts.”
“There’s a place for lecturing, but it’s not in the classroom.”
For the last five years, Trifts has been continually innovating and refining his course designs to ensure the most effective learning experience. He was one of a first to earn a Faculty Innovation grant to develop, study, and refine the flipped classroom approach. “We always want to be pushing the boundaries and asking: “What more can we do?”
A recipient of the University Merit Award for Research in 2015, Trifts focuses his research on issues in mutual fund management and the scholarship of teaching. Most recently, he was among three finalists in the country for the Financial Management Association International (FMA) “Innovation in Teaching Award.” At the organization’s annual conference in San Diego in October 2018, he placed as runner up for his presentation “Promoting Active Learning in the First Finance Course: Four Steps.”
The positive results are clear. “Not only do students fully engage in these classes, more learning is underway. Students in flipped classrooms, on average, are scoring 10 points higher on exams and course work than their counterparts in more traditional settings.”
“Not only do students fully engage in these classes, more learning is underway. Students in flipped classrooms, on average, are scoring 10 points higher on exams and course work than their counterparts in more traditional settings.”
That Trifts derives deep satisfaction in teaching is evident. He has received a number of awards in recognition of his dedication, including a Bryant University Teaching Award in 2017 and, in 2015, a Bryant University Distinguished Faculty Award. But, it’s what the students say and, more importantly, what they learn, that he finds most rewarding.
“The instructor loves what he does and wants us to love it too.” “A great professor with a lot of passion.” “The professor genuinely cares if the students understand the material.” Comments like these are typical among students in Trifts' classes.
“There are few things more fulfilling than being able to witness the growth and transformation that students experience in the courses I teach and throughout their time at Bryant,” reflects Trifts.
A dedicated leader and innovator
Trifts brought a wealth of experience as a university dean and professor when he joined Bryant University in 2005 to serve as the University’s first dean of the College of Business. During his five-year tenure as dean, Trifts and Distinguished Professor of History and former Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences David Lux, Ph.D., were instrumental in developing the integrated curriculum proposal, which revolutionized the academic landscape for Bryant students. Designed to prepare Bryant students fully for globally-focused, constantly evolving world, the integrated curriculum requires all business majors to minor in liberal arts and all liberal arts majors to minor in business. He was an integral member of the planning committee for the Quinlan/Brown Academic Innovation Center, which nurtures the active learning that Trifts champions.
For his many contributions to the Bryant community, Trifts has twice received the University Merit Award for Service, in 2013 and again in 2017.