Sunday, October 28, 2018

Marking the Retirement of a Great Isenberg School Finance Colleague - Professor Ben Branch

Last evening we had the honor of taking part in the retirement party of my Isenberg School of Management Finance colleague, Professor Ben Branch. The reception and dinner took place at the Marriott Center at the UMass Amherst Campus Center.

Professor Ben Branch, who received his PhD from the U. of Michigan in 1970,  has been on the Isenberg School faculty since 1975 and he is still teaching a class this semester. He is renowned for his work on investments and bankruptcy. In 2007, I had nominated him for the UMass Amherst Faculty Distinguished Lectureship, which he received. He and I were one of the very few Isenberg School faculty recognized in this wonderful way.

The evening was a fitting tribute to a true "gentleman-scholar," one who arrived at his office at 6:30AM, sometimes with his dog, and whose kindness helped to support multiple faculty and not only in his Finance Department. Professor Branch I had met when I was interviewed at UMass and he was one of about 20 faculty that attended my interview at the Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. 
When my daughter was born, he and his wife were among the first to come visit us in our hone to celebrate. He is always very dapper, and, in his wardrobe, he has about 40 bowties, so yesterday, as a tribute, my husband also wore one in his honor.
When I joined the faculty at the Isenberg School, our department was the Department of General Business and Finance, so my Finance colleagues were always there for me. The department has gone through various renamings and now we are two departments; Finance Department and the Operations and Information Management Department. Several present and former chairs of these departments also came to pay tribute including: Professors Iqbal Ali, Sanjay Nawalkha, and Nelson Lacey, who was a terrific Master of Ceremonies.
In the above photos are: Professor Ali, my husband and I, Finance colleagues: Professors Fousseni Chabi-Yo, Mila Sherman (the first female Full Professor in Finance, who acknowledged Ben's support, and Nikos Artavanis, who traveled from Virginia Tech for the retirement party, where he is now a Visiting Professor. We saw him last week in Blacksburg!
Joining the bowties in the above photo is Professor Hossein Kazemi, the Director of CISDM.

Several retired faculty (including Professors Charlie Schewe and Tony Butterfield) showed up to honor Ben as well as faculty and staff from other departments, including Professors Easwar Iyer and  Jennifer Merton, which was wonderful. Our Interim Dean, Tom Moliterno spoke, as did Professor Hossein Kazemi, who gave a hysterical rendition of how he was interviewed by Ben and got the job (and we had a walk down memory lane with both Dr. Alex Barges and Dr. Craig Moore mentioned). Several of his former doctoral students also came, including one who traveled all the way from California to honor his dissertation advisor. Professor Branch shared with us how proud he is of his former doctoral students. I enjoyed Professor Larry Zacharias' tribute very much. He noted not only Professor Branch's intellect and his interests in politics, but also how he studied astronomy and very early in the morning (about 3AM) he would go to observe and visit the beavers close to his home.
Professor Nelson Lacey presented the honoree with a gift.

Professor Branch wanted to have the last words and they were very touching, emphasizing the long way that our business school has come since his arrival over four decades ago. In the 1970s there was even a typing pool and computing was done with the use of punch cards.

Ben loves my borshcht, so in honor of him I have a huge pot on now and he and his family are welcome any time.

Thank you, Professor Ben Branch, for being such a special colleague of so many of us over so many years! You will always be a part of the Isenberg School of Management.