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Syracuse University School of Management namesake, Martin J. Whitman, dies

By Eric Reinhardt

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Martin J. Whitman, a 1949 Syracuse University graduate and the man for whom Syracuse’s School of Management is named, died Monday at the age of 93. (Photo credit: Syracuse University news website)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Martin J. Whitman, the man for whom Syracuse University’s School of Management is named, died Monday at the age of 93.

In a news release issued Tuesday, Syracuse described Whitman as “an investment industry visionary and generous benefactor to Syracuse University and its management school that bears his name.”

Whitman, who graduated from Syracuse in 1949 and earned an honorary degree in 2008, was an honorary trustee at the time of his death, the university said.

In 2003, “through the generosity” of Whitman and his wife, Lois, Syracuse named its business school the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. The donation resulted in construction of a 160,000-square-foot, “state-of-the-art” building for students to pursue their management-school degrees.

“Marty Whitman represented the very best of a generation that believed in hard work, education and striving for excellence always,” Syracuse Chancellor Kent Syverud said. “He used his education and his extraordinary intellect to achieve the highest levels of success, and yet he never forgot his humble roots. He was a role model for thousands of students here at Syracuse and elsewhere, and his legacy will live on through them.”

About Whitman

The son of Polish immigrants, Whitman was a fixture of the Syracuse University community for more than 70 years.

He came to Syracuse on the G.I. Bill after serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II and went on “to climb the highest echelons of the fiercely competitive field of investment management.”

In the process, he developed a reputation among his peers in the industry as the “dean of value investing.”

Graduating in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Whitman began his career as a security analyst at Shearson Hammill and went on to work in research and corporate finance for several firms. He earned a master’s degree in economics from the New School for Social Research in New York City and in 1974 founded his own firm, M.J. Whitman & Co. Inc., a broker-dealer.

Ten years after opening his own firm, he participated in a takeover of Equity Strategies, an open-end investment company, where he became CEO and president. In 1990, Whitman founded Third Avenue Value Fund, managing it from its inception through 2012 and serving as its chief investment officer through January 2010. He also shared his insights and investment savvy as author or co-author of four books.

“Mr. Whitman epitomized everything that the Whitman School of Management stands for,” Gene Anderson, dean of the Whitman School, said in the release. “His entrepreneurial, insightful and innovative spirit is reflective of our faculty, staff, students and alumni who follow his example in all they do. We are grateful for his many generous contributions of time, talent and treasure. He will be deeply missed by everyone in our community.”

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

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