Tim Johnson, a professor in the Department of Finance, was invested as the Karl and Louise Schewe Professor in Finance on April 28, 2017. His research focuses on the behavior of financial markets, and he teaches courses on the evolution of derivative markets and the real-world limitations of derivatives models. He is a renowned scholar and a respected educator. He received his bachelor’s in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MBA and a master’s degree in operations research from Columbia University, and a PhD in finance from the University of Chicago.
Jeffrey R. Brown, Josef and Margot Lakonishok Professor of Business and Dean of the College of Business, provided the opening welcome. “All investitures are a special time within the College,” Brown said. “They are an opportunity to recognize the scholarly and service and teaching contributions of very distinguished scholars—like Tim Johnson.” Brown went to describe Johnson’s stature in the College: “Even among faculty at a leading institution, Tim stands out in terms of his raw intellect and abilities.”
Paul Ellinger, vice provost for budget and resource planning, presented the greetings from the university. “The investiture of a colleague with an endowed professorship is always a high point. As a department head, one of the most important things we do is we hire good people, we promote excellent people, and we reward that excellence. That is the fun part, and today we reward Tim’s excellence.”
Anthony Neuberger, a professor of finance at the Cass Business School at City, University of London, was a colleague and mentor of Johnson’s when both were at the London Business School. “Tim is someone I have always admired, both as a friend and as an academic,” he said. He recalled that Johnson was known for having a “fearless intellectual curiosity [with an] openness to people and to ideas.”
Johnson’s research has had great impact in the areas of insider trading and to understanding market liquidity. “Tim has made a massive contribution to financial economics over the last 20 years. And I am delighted to be able to pay tribute to it on this occasion,” Neuberger said.
Louis K.C. Chan, chair of the Department of Finance and Hoeft Professor of Business, said, “As befits our university’s status as a land grant institution, the College of Business aspires to provide our students with a world class business education while conducting cutting edge scholarly research. It is the informed judgment of Tim’s colleagues in the Finance Department that Tim is a shining example of somebody who is singularly successful in fulfilling those two obligations.”
In the classroom, Johnson brings three strengths, according to Chan: his record as a researcher, his experience in the finance industry, and his skills in exposition and organization. “As a result, students come out of his classes with a complete mastery of the tools and concepts, some understanding of the institutional details, and an appreciation of the latest innovations in the financial industry,” Chan said.
Following Chan’s remarks, Johnson received the medallion that represents his named professorship. Johnson thanked everyone present for their support and for attending the event. He then described in layman’s terms some of the technical aspects of his research work. He compared his work to the recent science fiction film Arrival, which focused on scientists trying to understand the language of aliens who arrived on the planet. Johnson sees the scientific modeling used to understand the alien language as similar to what he does in his work. “What does the model do? It’s mapping [pieces of information] into a set of meanings.” Going back to his finance research, Johnson says that financial markets can tell more about deeper information about people’s feelings, hopes, and biases. So contrary to what many may think, “Financial markets actually express a lot of deeper stuff,” Johnson said. “There’s an underlying state involved, and it’s a human condition. Our models help us to listen.”
About the Karl and Louis Schewe
Karl H. Schewe was born in 1905, in Beardstown, Illinois. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in 1928 in both accounting and banking and finance. Upon his graduation, he joined the Haskins and Sells accounting firm in Chicago. He later joined a Merrill Lynch brokerage office in Chicago, which began a successful career in the stock market. He parlayed his success in the stock market to real estate, and owned property in Illinois, Florida, and Arkansas. Over the course of his career, he was a member of the New York Stock Exchange, Midwest Stock Exchange, Florida Citrus Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade. He was vice president of the Springfield office of A.G. Edwards when he retired in 1992. His wife Louise received her bachelor’s degree in history from Northwestern University and was active in real estate business.
The Schewes’ gift was established as an estate provision to provide support for the Department of Finance.