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April 25, 1996
University Gazette


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University Professorship Named for Fletcher

Honors graduate of Harvard Class of 1987

A new University professorship has been established in the name of Alphonse Fletcher Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Fletcher Asset Management Inc. and a 1987 graduate of Harvard College.

President Neil L. Rudenstine announced the creation of the Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professorship at an April 19 dinner, which brought together friends of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research on the eve of the Institute's conference "Separate but (Un)Equal," commemorating the centennial of Plessy v. Ferguson.

"We are extremely grateful to Buddy Fletcher for his wonderful generosity to Harvard and for his powerful statement of confidence in the University and its programs," Rudenstine said. "His support is magnificent testimony from an alumnus who only recently celebrated his thirtieth birthday, and who is still a year away from his tenth reunion. Buddy has a deep dedication to Harvard and a strong commitment to the importance of education.

"Those qualities are reflected in the intention and spirit of the new professorship that will bear his name," Rudenstine added. "He has expressed his preference that the chair be held, whenever possible, by a faculty member from one of the professional schools who is devoted to teaching and research about contemporary moral, religious, and social values, and whose interests include undergraduate education. The intention is to give special attention to our nation's tradition of pluralism, including the ways that differences in cultural, ethnic, and regional values may be reconciled and drawn upon to strengthen our democracy."

"I am one of three brothers who attended Harvard College," said Fletcher. "Each of us learned a great deal both inside and outside the classroom, and the experience fundamentally changed our lives. In the past few years, I am pleased to have had the opportunity to support Harvard in a variety of ways, and when I was approached about the idea of using my gifts to support a University professorship, I was extremely excited. The new chair will allow a distinguished member of the faculty to advance the essential role that Harvard plays in educating students for positions of leadership in society and instilling in them a sense of dedication to improve the human condition. I hope that, among other things, it will make a significant contribution to our understanding of how different cultural, ethnic, and regional values enrich American democratic life."

As a University professorship, the new Fletcher chair belongs to a special category of endowed positions established in 1935 as Harvard's highest professorial distinction. University professorships are designed to advance the efforts of scholars "working on the frontiers of knowledge, . . . in such a way that they cross the conventional boundaries of the specialties." The new chair brings the total of University professorships to 16. The first faculty member to hold the Fletcher University Professorship will be named at a later date.

Rudenstine noted at last week's dinner that the announcement of the Fletcher University Professorship is the culmination of discussions begun some four years ago with Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the Du Bois Institute, about the possibility of creating a new University chair that would be based primarily in one of Harvard's Faculties or Schools, while having the potential to complement the broad scholarly mission of the Institute. At the time, funds of $3 million were required to endow such a professorship. "Since then, Professor Gates and I have continued to explore this concept, as well as the prospects for funding," Rudenstine said. "Buddy Fletcher made a very substantial gift to Harvard some time ago, toward the beginning of the University Campaign, and he has continued to make commitments, with a total that clearly exceeds $3 million. When Professor Gates recently proposed the establishment of a University professorship to Buddy, he responded with enthusiasm, and we are deeply gratified by his support."

After graduating from Harvard College in 1987 with an A.B. in applied mathematics, Fletcher became a trader with Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc., and later with Kidder, Peabody & Co. Inc., where he emerged as one of the firm's most successful traders. In 1991, he founded Fletcher Asset Management (FAM) Inc., a New York City-based investment firm, where he serves as chairman and CEO. FAM invests directly in established and emerging growth companies. In addition, the firm specializes in the use of quantitative techniques to implement investment and hedging strategies for itself, its institutional clients, and its private clients. FAM's trading has accounted at times for as much as 5 percent of the daily composite volume on the New York Stock Exchange.

A member of the Committee on University Resources, the New York Major Gifts Steering Committee for the University Campaign, and the Harvard Friends of Engineering and Applied Science, Fletcher has made a number of gifts and pledges to Harvard in the past several years, including the donation in 1994 of his holdings of stock in Fletcher Capital Markets Inc., an affiliate of FAM. Fletcher served as a co-chair of the committee that organized last weekend's Plessy v. Ferguson centennial conference. In addition, FAM is a cosponsor of the conference "April in Paris: African-American Music and Europe," organized by Professor Gates and colleagues from the Du Bois Institute, and is a corporate sponsor of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Fletcher serves as a trustee of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the New School for Social Research, and the Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival. He has also served as chairman of the New York campaign of the United Negro College Fund. In 1995, Fletcher served as chairman, and FAM as the corporate sponsor, of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's annual opening night gala.


Copyright 1998 President and Fellows of Harvard College