On March 10, Scott Weisbenner, professor of finance, was formally invested as the William G. Karnes Professor in Mergers and Acquisitions in a ceremony held in the Deloitte Auditorium of the Business Instructional Facility.
Weisbenner has been a faculty member in the College of Business since 2000. His research focuses on household portfolio decisions and the financial and operational decisions made by corporate executives and other institutional managers. It draws on a number of different identification strategies and data sets to provide insights on these issues.
In his welcoming comments, College of Business Dean Jeffrey Brown said, “To receive an endowed position is really one of the highest honors that the university can bestow.”
Charles Tucker, the vice provost for undergraduate education and innovation, shared a similar sentiment during his remarks on behalf of the University of Illinois. “To be an endowed professor is to be among the best of the best,” he said. “These are people who set the bar of what it means to be a member of the faculty here.”
Zoran Ivkovich, former Illinois faculty member and current MSU Federal Credit Union Endowed Chair in Financial Institutions and Investments at Michigan State University, recalled when he and Weisbenner were both young professors at Illinois and began collaborating on a variety of projects. Ivkovich praised Weisbenner’s academic acumen, saying Weisbenner “always goes after ambitions projects.”
Louis K.C. Chan, professor of finance and head of the Department of Finance, pointed out the “careful work, rigorous attention to detail that is the core part of Scott’s research.” He went on to say, “The Karnes professorship is a much long-delayed recognition of Scott’s achievements. It is a signifier of our appreciation for the fact that he is a long-standing, conscientious citizen of this department. And it represents the wide respect that Scott has within the overall academic community.”
Following the presentation of the medallion recognizing his investiture as the William G. Karnes Professor in Mergers and Acquisitions, Weisbenner expressed his thanks to those members of his family and to his colleagues in attendance. He made the contrast between his grandmother’s career as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse, where she taught a handful of students in grades 1-8, and his own experience of teaching an online investments course, where thousands of students from 170 countries around the world can participate. “This is pretty dramatic evolution in the way we disseminate knowledge,” he said.
Weisbenner concluded, saying, “At the end of the day, the greatest asset you have—and the longest lasting—is your name. I am honored to have this professorship and to have the Karnes’ name attached to mine. And I hope that the university and the Karnes family feel the same.”
About the William G. Karnes Professorship in Mergers and Acquisitions
This professorship was established in 1983 in memory of William G. Karnes by his family.
Karnes earned a BS in Accountancy at Illinois in 1933 and a JD from Northwestern University in 1936 when he began a 40-year career at Beatrice Foods Company. He started as a clerk and rose through the ranks to become CEO and chairman. He earned a worldwide reputation as one of the nation’s most skillful negotiators of mergers and acquisitions.
A strong champion of the University of Illinois, Karnes earned the nickname “the father of the U of I Foundation” for his tireless efforts in support of his alma mater. He advised campus leaders over many decades and led the first university-wide capital campaign that began in 1979. Karnes and his wife Virginia Karnes, also deceased, gave generously to the University of Illinois through support for endowments, campus infrastructure, a scholarship, and the Karnes professorship.