The story of Martin J. Whitman ’49, founder and co-chief investment officer of Third Avenue Management, begins on the hills of Syracuse University. After earning a BS in business administration from SU in 1949, Whitman worked for a string of investment firms in New York City and Philadelphia.
He began his career as a security analyst at Shearson Hammill before working for the Rosenwald family, of Sears Roebuck fortune, where he was able to get his feet wet in investment banking. He earned a master’s degree in economics from The New School for Social Research (now New School University), in New York City.
Whitman ventured out on his own in 1974 and founded M.J. Whitman LLC, a full-service broker-dealer. Ten years later, he participated in a takeover of Equity Strategies, an open-end investment company, and became its CEO and president. In 1990, Whitman started Third Avenue Value Fund. Today, Third Avenue Management manages more than $21 billion of assets for private and institutional clients. Whitman has served on the boards of numerous companies, including Nabors Industries Limited, the world’s largest land drilling oil service company. Whitman also shares his special brand of investing with the greater financial community in the industry classics The Aggressive Conservative Investor, which he co-authored with fellow Princeton classmate Martin Shubik, and Value Investing—A Balanced Approach.
It’s been more than 50 years since Whitman walked the campus of the SU Hill as a student, yet he still finds his way back to the classroom to share his knowledge and expertise with budding businessmen and -women of the future. He has taught as an adjunct professor at the Yale University School of Management and at Syracuse University’s School of Management, which today proudly bears his name. The commitment of Whitman and his wife, Lois, reflects their conviction that the American Dream is the promise of opportunity and will be reflected in our graduates’ lives, careers, and contributions to society for as far as any of us can see.
Whitman still holds a tremendous love and enthusiasm for his work and has yet to set a date for retirement. Like all Whitman School graduates, he has the intellect, ambition, and compassion for others that give him the ability to change the world.