EPIC Spotlight: Dr. Tim Yeager

Dr. Tim Yeager could have stayed focused on economics. He spent years in college, earning degrees in economics and even teaching the subject at universities on both the East and West coasts.

But when he took a job in the Bank Supervision Unit of the Federal Reserve Bank, he was about to get a crash course on banking.

“I walked in knowing very little about banking,” he says. “I tell people it’s where I got my second Ph.D.”

Now, bankers (and the media) across Arkansas seek Yeager’s opinions and knowledge of the banking industry.

As an associate professor in finance at the Sam M. Walton College of Business and the Arkansas Bankers Association Chair in Banking, Yeager teaches college students about the banking profession and updates and informs bankers through conferences and articles published through the Arkansas Bankers Association.

Yeager’s transition from economics professor to finance professor and banking expert may not have happened, in part, had he not been a bit homesick for his hometown of St. Louis. He taught economics at Ithaca College in New York and Humboldt State University in California – both far away from the Midwest where he and his wife were from. When the opportunity to work as a researcher for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis presented itself, he seized it.

At his Federal Reserve Bank job, where he was an economist in Supervisory Policy Analysis, Yeager researched issues affecting community banks as well as apprise bank examiners to economic and banking conditions. As he worked his way up to assistant vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank, Yeager says he found he spent more time in meetings and less doing research. Though he taught evening classes at St. Louis University, he yearned to return to a campus full time.

That campus would be in Fayetteville, Ark. In 2006, Yeager was hired for the position he now holds. “The job description fit me like a glove,” he says.

Yeager says he was pleasantly surprised with Northwest Arkansas’ scenic outdoors and the collegial and friendly atmosphere at Walton College. Yeager says at many universities, faculty can be competitive and even hostile. “Here, it’s completely the opposite,” he says.

At Walton College, Yeager teaches introductory, advanced and graduate banking courses.

He says his research interests are wide and varied, but most recently he has been exploring the link between the banking sector and the macro economy. He has been published in several publications, including Journal of Banking and Finance; Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking; and Journal of Economics and Business. “I have learned a lot since I’ve gotten here,” he says. “My research has improved because I’m surrounded by bright and hard-working colleagues and students.”

In addition, each summer for the past three years, he takes students to Belize where they assist potential and existing small business owners by presenting business education seminars and offering microloans to the most promising businesses. For Yeager, the Belize program has been personally rewarding and enriching. “I feel like we make a difference, and each year, thankfully, has been better than the last,” he says.

Yeager says when he’s away from work, he likes to spend time with his wife, Dara, and their four children—two of whom are attending the University of Arkansas. He also enjoys spending time on Beaver Lake. “I ended up where I wanted to be, but the path to get here had many twists and turns,” Yeager says.