Profs Reminisce About Their Best Gifts Ever

Nov 15, 2017

Miles Davis Poster to Pocket Calculator

SMITH BRAIN TRUST – Some people are just absurdly difficult to buy presents for. But it does feel great when, every once in a while, you manage to nail it, finding the perfect gift that will be remembered fondly for years and years. Smith Brain Trust roamed the halls of Van Munching Hall recently, asking faculty members to think back on the best gifts they’ve ever received. Here’s what they said: 

"When I started dating my wife, Isabel, I quickly learned that gift giving is a huge part of the Mozambican culture. As an avid shopper, Isabel has considerable talent at scoring the perfect gift. Sure enough, she got me an iconic poster of my favorite artist, Miles Davis. I have been a fan of this protean composer and legendary trumpeter for years. The poster captures Miles’ ever-present coolness. He exudes an air of confidence that comes after years of mastery over one's art." —Henry C. Boyd III, clinical professor of marketing

"The best gift I ever received was five shares of the common stock of Long Island Lighting when I was 12 years old. This $100 gift transformed my life. Until then the only part of my local newspaper (New York Times) that I read was the sports section. After receiving this gift I read the business section first and developed my interest in, and passion for, economics and finance. This paved the way for my later education and current career." —David Kass, clinical professor of finance

"For our 25th anniversary, my husband and I gave each other a condo in Florida, which we use now as a vacation home. It will be our home when we retire." —Elinda F. Kiss, clinical associate professor of finance

"The best gift I have ever received is a piano from my parents. I began studying piano at age 5 and have taken 21 years of lessons – mostly classical but also some jazz. My parents gave me a piano for the home I bought in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where my academic career began; to this day this is among my most treasured gifts since it continues to bring joy (music) into my home." —Debra L. Shapiro, the Clarice Smith Professor of Management

"A very early version of a pocket calculator when I was in second grade (1973). Calculators were officially banned from school, but my parents thought that my interest in math would overshadow the potential shortcomings of having what was then called a 'cheating machine.' They were right. I loved math ever since. I wish that smartphones will, in the end, prove to make our next generation smarter." —Oliver Schlake, clinical professor of management and organization

"The best gifts are those which involve doing something with my daughters or grandchildren. One gift was a spa day with all three daughters — pedicures and manicures. The three of us chatted and laughed together, for those few hours, with not a care in the world!" —Susan White, clinical professor of finance



About the Expert(s)

Susan White is a Clinical Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, teaching corporate finance for undergraduates and MBAs. She received my undergraduate degree from Brown University, MBA from Binghamton University and PhD in finance from the University of Texas, Austin. Her primary area of research is case studies, with cases and articles published in the Business Case Journal, CASE Journal, Case Research Journal, Journal of Financial Education, Journal of Financial Research, International Journal of Financial Education, a restructuring case book and personal finance collection.

Debra L. Shapiro

Debra L. Shapiro (Ph.D. Northwestern U) is the Clarice Smith Professor at the U of Maryland (UMD), formerly the Willard Graham Distinguished Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill where she was 1986-2003. Debra has led UNC's and MD's business schools' PhD Programs (as Associate Dean at UNC from 1998-2001 and UMD from 2008-2011).


Dr. Oliver Schlake is a Clinical Professor at Robert H. Smith School of Business, a senior business consultant, entrepreneur and researcher. His publications and research on scenario-based strategic planning and innovation strategy have been featured in leading academic and practitioner journals worldwide. Oliver has been an international management consultant and strategic advisor for leading companies and government agencies in Europe and North-America. Prior to joining the Smith School he was Assistant Professor for E-Business at National University, San Diego and CEO for German based consulting firm Scenario Management International (ScMI AG).


Professor Elinda F. Kiss' primary areas of research include Bank Regulation, Finance and Banking Crises and Fixed Income Securities. She teaches Corporate Finance, and Banking in both the undergraduate and MBA programs. Prior to teaching at the Smith School Professor Kiss has served as Associate Professor in the Departments of Finance and Accounting at Rutgers University and as Assistant Professor or Lecturer at the Wharton School, Wellesley College, and Temple University.

David Kass

Dr. David Kass has published articles in corporate finance, industrial organization, and health economics. He currently teaches Advanced Financial Management and Business Finance, and is the Faculty Champion for the Sophomore Finance Fellows. Prior to joining the faculty of the Smith School in 2004, he held senior positions with the Federal Government (Federal Trade Commission, General Accounting Office, Department of Defense, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis). Dr. Kass has recently appeared on Bloomberg TV, CNBC, PBS Nightly Business Report, Maryland Public Television, Business News Network TV (Canada), FOX TV, Bloomberg Radio, Wharton Business Radio, KCBS Radio, American Public Media's Marketplace Radio, and WYPR Radio (Baltimore), and has been quoted on numerous occasions by The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, The New York Times and The Washington Post, where he has primarily discussed Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, the economy, and the stock market. 

<p>Henry C. Boyd is a Clinical Professor in the Marketing Department at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. He is also a managing director and principal at Ombudsman LLC, a diversified consultancy. He is licensed to practice law in Maryland, Wisconsin, and the U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin.</p>

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