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Ellsworth Holden

Ellsworth Holden graduated from OHIO's College of Arts and Sciences in 1955. He returned to his alma mater in 1961 and taught various courses in the College of Business for more than 35 years.

Photo courtesy of: UCM

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Finance alumnus awards department profs with cash, recognition for scholarly work

After supporting Ohio University for 23 years through financial gifts, OHIO alumnus Ellsworth Holden made a pivot and now contributes to the department he holds dear: the Department of Finance.

Holden, a 1955 graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, joined the College of Business in 1966 and taught statistics, accounting, entrepreneurship and Management Information Services for more than 35 years.

Holden recently established The Ellsworth Holden Award, which incentivizes high-quality research within the Department of Finance by awarding faculty members who publish in reputable financial journals.

“The gift is special to me because it’s devoted to a purpose that I know and understand,” Holden said. “It’s enabling people whom I respect to further their development and the development of the department.”

Holden was born into a true Bobcat family. Every member of his immediate family, including both of his parents and three younger siblings, graduated from OHIO. After earning his master’s degree from Harvard University in 1959, Holden returned to the “Harvard on the Hocking” in 1961 to begin his teaching career.

Holden retired from his teaching position at 62 but continued to teach one course each spring as an emeriti professor. Even a diagnosis of colon cancer didn’t prevent him from teaching part-time in the Department of Finance.

“This university was certainly a daily part of my life for decades, and I’m happy that it continues to be,” Holden said.

Shortly after he ended his term as an emeriti professor, Holden said he looked through the College of Business directory and realized he only recognized a few faculty members. While he knew faculty turnover within a department was normal, he sought to support the Department of Finance to ensure the longevity of the program and its professors.

Holden worked with Department of Finance Chair Andrew Fodor to create the award.

“The recognition and tangible awards Ellsworth has allowed us to provide our faculty comes with many benefits,” Fodor said. “The awards are important for retention of faculty in showing appreciation and recognition of their work and commitment. The awards also serve to raise awareness of these accomplishments across the College with fellow faculty and students.”

Assistant Professor Kelley Bergsma was one of the recipients of last year’s awards. Her article “Cultural New Year Holidays and Stock Returns Around the World,” co-authored by Stony Brook University Professor Danling Jiang, was published in Financial Management as its lead article.

Bergsma said she was honored to receive the award alongside her colleagues Sinan Gokkaya, assistant professor of finance, and Xi Liu, assistant professor in the department of finance. Gokkaya and Liu were recognized for "Before an Analyst Becomes an Analyst: Does Industry Experience Matter?" , which they co-authored with University of South Florida Professor Daniel Bradley for the September issue of The Journal of Finance.

“Granting awards to students and faculty for exceptional work encourages diligence and innovation within our department,” Bergsma said. “Moreover, by fostering an OU culture that rewards excellence, we can better recruit talented new faculty and students.” 

Holden said he is delighted to have a new focus for his contribution. He said he hopes the award will help promote the success of finance professors and encourage them to continue their teaching career at OHIO.

“I hope it’s part of their growth into long-term enjoyment and commitment as a faculty member,” Holden said. “As an alum who is interested in the university’s future, I hope it help builds our future. I hope this is part of the faculty’s reward and enjoyment in being here.”

The Ohio University Foundation is the repository for all private gifts through annual giving programs, capital, and special campaigns and planned or deferred gifts. The Foundation is an institutionally related, non-profit, tax-exempt, 501c(3) organization. Each year, more than 25,000 alumni and friends make gifts to the Foundation to support students, faculty research and creative activity, innovative programs, select capital projects, and community partnerships.