Honoring a Legend: The James C. Van Horne Professorship

Spring 2011

It is a Stanford GSB tradition to honor outstanding faculty members with an enduring legacy designed to benefit future generations. In that vein, James C. Van Horne, the A.P. Giannini Professor of Banking and Finance, emeritus, is the inspiration for a number of colleagues, friends, and former students to establish an endowed chair in his honor. In tribute to Van Horne and his legacy at the school, Jack Levy, MBA ’78, and Michael M. Smith, MBA ’88, initially helped to establish a faculty fund in his name.

With the generosity of many others, the fund subsequently reached the professorship level to enable the creation of the James C. Van Horne Professorship in Stanford Graduate School of Business. This past February, many who had contributed to the endowed chair gathered to formally mark the occasion and celebrate the appointment of Jeffrey Zwiebel as the inaugural chairholder.

Van Horne began teaching at Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1965. In the more than four decades since then, he has served as a mentor and role model to many. Well known to former students for his legendary cold calling in the classroom, he was the first recipient of the MBA Distinguished Teaching Award. When students honored him again with a second distinguished teaching award in 1997, he estimated that he had already had about 7,000 students pass through his door.

His scholarly contributions have focused on the theory and behavior of interest rates, corporate finance, capital budgeting decisions, and the valuation of market instruments. He is the author of numerous case studies, more than 60 articles, and 5 books, 3 of which — Financial Management Policy, Fundamentals of Financial Management, and Financial Market Rates and Flows — are in wide use as texts. He is the past president of the American Finance Association and the Western Finance Association, has been an active member of the Financial Economists Roundtable, and has previously served as the associate editor of leading finance journals.

Professor Van Horne earned his AB in 1957 from DePauw University, and his MBA in 1961 and PhD from Northwestern University in 1964. In the mid-1970s he served as deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury, and has served on several federal and state of California commissions and advisory groups, as well as numerous corporate and nonprofit boards. At the business school, he has served as director of the MBA program and as associate dean for academic affairs. In 1989, he was awarded the Robert T. Davis Award by the dean for extraordinary faculty contributions over his lifetime.

“This is a wonderful reflection of the impact that Jim has had as a colleague, teacher, and mentor to so many across generations of Stanford GSB community,” says Robert L. Joss. “I was privileged to know him during my time as a student and to then be part of this extraordinary effort during my tenure as dean.”