CAES economist receives prestigious 2022 Ketchum Prize

October 15 – ATHENS – Professor Cesar Escalante of the University of Georgia has been awarded the 2022 Ketchum Prize – the FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s highest honor – in recognition of his pioneering research and advocacy to advance financial inclusion and mitigating racial and gender biases in agricultural lending.

“I am truly honored to receive the Ketchum Award from the FINRA Foundation,” Escalante said. “At the same time, I feel very inspired by the realization that my triple responsibility (in teaching, research and awareness of cooperative extension of UGA) within our land grant institution contributes maintain financial inclusiveness and improve the financial capability of Americans.”

Escalante, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, came to the University of Georgia in 2001 after earning his doctorate from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree from Canada. He was born and raised in the Philippines, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and worked in commercial banking for nine years before moving his young family overseas to further his education.

During her early years at CAES, Escalante repeatedly heard about the challenges faced by minorities and women farmers from her extension clientele. These experiences sparked a passion for applied research focused on racial and gender biases in agricultural lending.

“Dr. Escalante is an incredibly well-known and respected researcher; he’s also an incredible teacher,” said UGA Senior Vice Provost Michelle Cook. “He integrates his expertise and background in finance to apply a research lens to the lived experiences of the people he works with.”

Escalante’s passion is not limited to farmers and agricultural finance – his commitment to his students is evident in and beyond the classroom.

Escalante has received numerous awards for his research, mentorship, and service during his tenure at CAES, including the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Mentorship Award, the 2019 Freshman Odyssey Teaching Award, and the CAES Faculty Diversity Award. He is a three-time recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Member Award from the Graduate Student Association of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. He also received the 2020 President’s Award for Fulfilling the Dream and the 2020 CAES Faculty Outstanding Mentorship Award.

“As my work continues to draw attention to the needs of those who are socially and financially disadvantaged in the agricultural sector, I can only hope that future reforms and efforts will not only preserve the principles of equity and justice within and beyond agricultural lending, but also create many opportunities for minority business owners to operate more viable businesses that can thrive in highly competitive economies,” Escalante said.

FINRA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to investor protection and market integrity. It regulates an essential part of the securities industry – the brokerage firms that do business with the public in the United States. FINRA, overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission, writes rules, reviews and enforces compliance with FINRA rules and federal securities laws, registers broker-dealer personnel and provides broker education and training, and informs the investing public.

In addition, FINRA provides surveillance and other regulatory services for the equity and options markets, as well as transaction reporting and other industry utilities. FINRA also administers a dispute resolution forum for investors and brokerage firms and their registered employees.

The FINRA Foundation’s $10,000 Ketchum Prize honors former FINRA Chairman and CEO Richard “Rick” Ketchum, who retired in 2016 after three decades of distinguished leadership in securities regulation . He was also Chairman of the FINRA Foundation.

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