Glenn and Gabriella Isaacson
A bequest for a junior, non-tenured position
"This gift is really about my brother Larry, who passed away two years ago. In reflecting upon his life and career, we could not help but notice that the period that stood out the most was his experience at SOM. He talked about it all the time in glowing terms. He loved what he was doing, he loved being part of a new institution, and he loved the responsibility of creating a curriculum that had meaning for the students.
"Larry was not an academic in the true academic sense. He was, however, no intellectual slouch and had three degrees from Harvard — a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate — but he was a practitioner at heart. He spent the early part of his career at McKinsey and Co., as an economist for S&H Green Stamps (which is a nice connection with the Beinecke family), and in the real estate development business. Larry was intense, but had a great sense of humor and a sense of theater. He also had a very quick mind and a great deal of patience. In his consulting life, he used to say to clients, 'I’m happy to help you solve this problem, and when I come up with a solution that I think works, I’ll discuss it with you. I’ll spend as much time with you as you like and explain it as many different ways as I can.' He wanted to make sure that the person understood in a deep way what was at stake and what the different parts of the problem were.
"Larry was recruited by Bill Donaldson to be the first professor of marketing when SOM was founded and he came to his teaching with very real life experiences that made him a better teacher. Larry was a genius at marketing. If you asked the alumni who were his students at the time, I think that they would universally relate experiences about how he had them visualizing walking down the supermarket aisle, pushing a cart, and asking them why they took certain things off the shelf and not others. He had remarkable ways of teaching fundamental ideas of choice in the marketplace, which resonated with the students. Larry understood that people are people and people make choices. He was interested in the psychology of the situation and solving the mystery of personal choice. One of the things that he stressed in the classroom was that there was no one market for anything. He emphasized the idea that the market is a series of segments and that a business person has to understand this segmentation to get at market workings.
"What Larry liked best about SOM was his students; he enjoyed his students enormously and the caliber of the students at SOM thrilled him. They were challenging, smart, and respectful. Larry was invited to all the reunions for his former students, and when Larry was too ill to attend, his former students made a video for him; they spoke about what his influence had meant to them and it was very moving. When deciding to make this gift to SOM, this video was one of the things that really confirmed for us how important his time at SOM had been. The gift is really our way of trying to carry on the memory of him in the place he loved and with students he loved."