California Alumnus to Endow Chair in Finance at Anderson School
Some UNM alumni call New Mexico home and forge close ties with the University; others move on and never look back-but fortunately, some do.
Bill Grasse has traveled the world, enjoyed success in business ventures, and hasn't attended a Lobo game in decades. He earned a BS in 1963 and an MBA in 1968 from the College of Business Administration, now the Anderson School of Management (ASM). It proved to be a meaningful foundation for his life and career, which is why he decided to make a significant bequest intention to fund The William D. Grasse Endowed Chair in Finance at the Anderson School. His gift will assist future generations of business leaders as they develop their academic foundations.
Former ASM Dean Douglas Brown acknowledges Grasse's abiding connection to the University, despite the intervention of time, distance and life experiences. "It's especially nice when someone's been away for so long, as Bill has," said Brown. "For him to remember UNM in such a generous way is truly exceptional."
Grasse spent his youth in the farmlands of South Dakota, where hard work and hard winters defined much of life. He graduated from high school with a U.S. Navy ROTC scholarship and a desire for a warmer climate. "I'd never been far from home. Didn't figure I'd fit in down south or at the likes of Harvard," he recalled, laughing. Even though South Dakota was about as far from Albuquerque in its cultural traditions as it was in distance, Grasse chose UNM.
Academics, Greek life and work kept him busy back then. "I majored in Math with minors in English and Navy Sciences," said Grasse. "I served meals at a sorority, and was an officer in Phi Delta Theta, which was a paid position then. I also inventoried capital expenditures for UNM."
After his undergraduate degree, Grasse eagerly reported for Naval flight training. But an unexpected medical diagnosis cut his active duty short. He suddenly found himself retired from service, unsure of what was next, so he spent a summer in Europe before returning to UNM to pursue an MBA. "I had to start all over again," he remarked, "because I had no accounting or finance experience."
While working for the Bank of California in the 1970s, Grasse began buying and renovating residential properties in San Francisco. He now enjoys his retirement homestead in Sonoma County, collects art and travels widely.
One of Grasse's professional interests also prompted his desire to plan his legacy gift to ASM: the relatively new field of Behavioral Finance, which studies how cognitive and emotional biases affect people's decisions.
"Human behavioral patterns often reflect or lead to irrational choices, especially in financial markets" noted Brown. "Once you understand that, you can use it to your advantage."
"I'm fairly rational when it comes to economics," Grasse said, "and that's pretty much the way I've led my life."
Story by Hilary Mayall Jetty