Myles Watts has been in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State since 1978, and he knows a thing or two about business. Watts, who served as the department head for 17 years, grew up on his family’s ranch in eastern Montana between Miles City and Baker.
After receiving his bachelors of science at MSU in agricultural business in 1973, he obtained a masters of science in applied economics, before receiving his Ph.D. in agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, in 1978.
Watts expressed his passion for research, which is reflected in his past work and accomplishments. He has done an abundance of academic research during his time at MSU and he stated that his interests lie primarily in, “Public lands policy, water quality, and financial work that has to do with topics such as, how do we stress test banks and how do we stress test large corporations.” He has received numerous awards and recognition for his research and has published more than 30 research publications.
Watts voiced enthusiasm about the new financial engineers degree program at MSU, for which he headed up the development team. “I am really excited about the work I’ve been able to do with the financial engineering program recently,” Watts said. Currently 30 plus students are enrolled in the new program but Watts projects this number to increase. “Given the amount of interest in the program, I suspect by the end of the first year we will be approaching maybe 70 to 100 majors,” Watts said.
When he is not busy creating new degree programs, teaching or conducting his research, Watts spends a majority of his time traveling to Washington, D.C. for his work in public policy and serving as the vice chairman of the Board of Directors for the Farmer Mac program. Watts was nominated by U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and appointed to the board in 2010 by President Barack Obama. “Farmer Mac provides a secondary market for agriculture loans,” stated Watts, “It is publicly traded and is a New York Stock Exchange Corporation.”
In addition to Farmer Mac, Watts is the chairman of the Risk Committee which he says goes hand-in-hand with the financial engineering program. “A lot of the things we do in financial engineering is risk management,” he said, discussing how financial engineering plays a role, “In large corporations like JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway.”
Watts also does work with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. “I end up with a lot of real world experience, and I have used some of those examples in my classes,” Watts stated.
While Watts does not have an excess of spare time, he discussed a few of his favorite activities, “I try to get in an occasional round of golf, I like fishing in Alaska, and I like baseball. There’s not much time for that; but I try to do some of those things when I can.”
His advice to students at MSU? Watts said, “Go to class, study hard, exploit the university, and learn as much as you can because down the road it’s going to help you. It really is.”