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Finance Professor Joe Messina Retires

News + Events : Finance Professor Joe Messina Retires


Joe Messina joined the College of Business at San Francisco State in the fall of 1977. The decade was a watershed time for financial economics, marked by the seminal option pricing work of Merton, Black, and Scholes.

Finance Professor Joe Messina

Their contributions had a profound effect on the finance industry, forever changing how financial assets were created and priced. Academia followed suit, producing a new wave of finance faculty who were schooled in this new and burgeoning field of asset pricing.

Besides his teaching responsibilities, Joe would often be in seclusion high above the U.C. Berkeley campus in Berkeley’s “Rad Lab” absorbed in completing his doctoral dissertation. In addition, Joe served as First or Second Reader on thesis projects for the many finance MBA candidates. Needless to say, Joe was very busy during those early years!

Following the retirements of several senior faculty, Joe and Jerry Platt (later dean of the CoB) were assigned to Room 313 in the Business Building, an office they were to share during the ’80s and ’90s. Thousands of finance students have passed through their infamous office, some seeking advice and knowledge, and others seeking the unattainable—a higher grade. While many entered with trepidation, they most often left inspired. Some students passed from the collective conscience of the college long ago, while others such as Alan Jung and Larry Low later returned to work at the CoB.

One of the most compelling examples of Joe’s insight and vision was undoubtedly his concept of an off-campus and independently funded graduate business degree program. Joe conceived, designed, championed, and ultimately implemented the Accelerated MBA program in the late ’90s, which later would go on to became the current Executive MBA (EMBA) program. Joe worked tirelessly to align colleagues, anticipate and resolve problems, and personally recruit students. The success of the program and all that followed from it is a lasting tribute to the difference one professor can make.

The challenges Joe faced in getting the Accelerated MBA program off the ground pale in comparison to the one he faced in 2003, when a lump on his neck turned into a fight for his life. With the same determination and resolve his colleagues had come to know and appreciate, Joe researched his options, chose wisely, and persevered. Not surprisingly, he found the means to maintain a semblance of normalcy in his life by balancing his teaching schedules and university service commitments, with radiation treatments. An inspiration to all!

Jerry Platt: “My feelings run so deep, but four thoughts stand out. From our first year onward, I respected Joe for his analytic mind, his well-reasoned arguments, and his confidence to speak up and make a compelling case for what he believed. Second, I realized as the years passed, Joe had evolved and matured from a young faculty member who simply knew things, to a seasoned colleague who possessed much wisdom—that rare quality of transforming mere information into insight and vision. Third, throughout his career Joe resolutely maintained consistency in his expectations and standards for student performance in his classroom and for faculty performance in their discipline. Fourth, and on a more personal note, I treasured our endless hours of conversations. Although, Joe did so much to educate so many students over so many years, I doubt any student learned more from him than I did—about technical topics, about personal development, and about life. I remain in his debt.”

Alan Jung:  “I would like to reiterate what Jerry has voiced so elegantly above, Joe is so much more than just a member of the finance department. He is more like a caring father. His presence breathes life into the department, keeping it on the straight and narrow. He selflessly devotes himself to guiding, nurturing, and mentoring his students, as well as his colleagues. I feel blessed to have been on the receiving end of Joe’s wisdom and generosity, and I too will remain in his debt.”

Since August 2004, Joe has participated in the Faculty Early Retirement Program. His commitment ends with completion of the current semester, and Joe will leave us to embark on his next phase of life. We trust that Professor Emeritus Messina will continue to remain engaged with the College to which he has given so much and which remains a much better place for his efforts.

We thank you, Joe.

Tanti Auguri.

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