The Tom and Mary James Endowed Professorship in Finance
Mr. Thomas A. James, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Raymond James Financial, and his wife, Mary, endowed the Tom and Mary James Professorship in Finance in 2006. Although Mr. James has two degrees from Harvard University, he looked at his and Mrs. James' gift to Eckerd as one that would make more of an impact than it would at an Ivy League institution. When asked about his gift, he stated, "Eckerd College is particularly qualified to deliver a combination of an excellent liberal arts education and practical skills that are necessary in today's world." Mr. James, a former Trustee of Eckerd College (1985–1991), said he thinks Eckerd is poised to blossom: "I want to see them jump to the next plateau."
This endowed professorship has strengthened Eckerd's business-related programs such as Business Administration, Management, Economics and International Business, in which one-fifth of Eckerd students graduate with a minor or major.
A highly respected businessman and philanthropist in the Tampa Bay area, Mr. James has served on numerous local non-profit boards and has given both personally and through his corporation to many important local charities. In 1983, he established the Robert A. James Memorial Endowed Scholarship, one of the largest endowed scholarships at Eckerd College. Three years later, Raymond James Financial established the Raymond James and Associates Annual Scholarship for students with an interest in business.
Professor Naveen K. Malhotra was appointed as the first occupant of the Tom and Mary James Professorship in Finance. Dr. Malhotra joined the Eckerd College faculty as Assistant Professor of Finance and Management in 1985 and has risen up the ranks to full Professor. He is the Discipline Coordinator for the popular Business Management major in the Program for Experienced Learners (PEL) and the key mentor for seniors in that field. He is a popular but demanding teacher whose finance courses draw high ratings from both residential and PEL students.
Dr. Malhotra also serves as the advisor for the Eckerd College Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team, which was one of two champion teams after participating in the 2008 SIFE USA Regional Competition in Philadelphia. He was named a Sam M. Walton Free Enterprise Fellow in recognition of his leadership and support of the SIFE program at Eckerd College. Further, the City of St. Petersburg proclaimed November 13, 2003, Professor Naveen Malhotra and Students in Free Enterprise Day.
Mr. and Mrs. James have been supporters of Eckerd for more than two decades, endorsing the applicability of a liberal arts education to business practices and providing opportunities to Eckerd's aspiring entrepreneurs. "I can think of no better business leader than Tom James for our students to emulate," said Eckerd President Donald R. Eastman III. "We are grateful for Tom and Mary's support that will help take this fine institution to the next level."