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Chaifetz Faculty Receive Inaugural Curriculum Innovation Grants

The Chaifetz School of Business continued its commitment to innovation in May 2021 when the school bestowed inaugural awards as part of a new Curriculum Innovation Grant program established by Edward Jones Dean Barnali Gupta. 

Four business school faculty members — Naresh Bansal, Mamoun Benmamoun, Olgun Sahin and Lei Zhao — received grants during the Chaifetz School’s 2021 Excellence Awards. 

The $1,500 grant awards for individual faculty, or $3,500 awards for a team of faculty, were offered for the first time this year to support and recognize innovation in business courses and curriculum. The awards are designed to support a variety of funding needs, such as a program to be introduced into courses, or to support time spent learning and implementing a new pedagogy, software or area.

“While the Chaifetz School has led business education for more than a century as one of the oldest business schools in the country, it is imperative for us to continually innovate in the classroom,” said Gupta. “These grants provide our faculty ongoing resources to ensure Chaifetz students graduate prepared to lead in the ever-evolving future of business.”

The program’s inaugural grants reflected the variety of innovative ideas and initiatives from academic departments across the Chaifetz School.

2021 Curriculum Innovation Grantees

Naresh Bansal, Department of Finance ($1,500)

Bansal’s grant will allow Desmos, an interactive online graphing tool that is becoming increasingly popular to produce meaningful and illustrative financial work, to be introduced in his finance courses. With the tool, finance students will be able to receive instant feedback on changes in financial parameters they make, allowing them to understand the various connections and complexities. For example, when investigating retirement planning, the online graphing tool can help students understand the interconnections in things like asset allocation, inflation, interest rates, etc. both visually and interactively.

Mamoun Benmamoun, Department of International Business ($1,500)

Benmamoun’s grant will introduce non-technical AI modules into a range of international business courses. After students learn the basic methods and applications of AI in international business, they’ll be able to simultaneously formulate and execute an AI strategy, while also becoming equipped with the tools necessary for ethical engagement with AI applications in international business.

Olgun Sahin, Department of Finance ($1,500)

Sahin’s grant will be used to create new course content, including short instructional videos and interactive student learning experiences and simulations. The new content format aims to enhance students' engagement with course material and enhance overall student learning outcomes. 

Lei Zhao, Department of Accounting ($1,500)

Zhao’s grant was awarded for development of a new course in data analytics for the Department of Accounting. The course will be offered to undergraduate seniors and graduate students beginning in Spring 2022 and will serve as an introduction to specific business analysis technologies.

Sharing Best Practices

Grant awardees will present about their winning proposals and shed light on continuous innovation efforts across disciplines at the Chaifetz School of Business at a Research and Teaching Seminar Series on Friday, October 22 at 12:00 p.m. The Research and Teaching Seminar Series is an ongoing professional development opportunity within the Chaifetz School to promote and support excellence in teaching and research held each Friday throughout the academic year. 

For more information on the Chaifetz School's Research and Teaching Seminar Series, contact Mary Louise Murray Endowed Professor of Management Jintong Tang at


Founded in 1910, the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business at Saint Louis University has shaped the future of industry for more than a century. As one of the oldest business schools west of the Mississippi, the Chaifetz School has built a reputation as a leader in business education with eight undergraduate and graduate programs nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report.