The World Belongs to Optimists


By Marilyn Harris



The World Belongs to Optimists
By Dr. Robert Kavesh

"The world belongs to optimists."
That's all you have to say.
Just keep your eyes on those blue skies
And you will find the way...

To climb the mountain of success-
Now here's the magic key:
That while you earn, you have to learn
To help humanity.


(Above) Bob Kavesh speaks at an event in May celebrating the establishment of a professorship in his name at NYU Stern.

(Right) Kavesh is honored by co-hosts (from left to right) Henry Kaufman, Paul A. Volcker, and Alan Greenspan with NYU Stern Dean Thomas F. Cooley.

Mr. Chips had nothing on Dr. Robert Kavesh (BS '49). You know the type: The much-beloved poetry-quoting teacher who inspires his students through nearly five decades of economic and political turmoil, and who, as a student himself — and here the similarities end — argued economics and baseball, hummed Mozart, and ogled girls in post-war Washington Square Park with his NYU schoolmate (and, later, thesis advisee) Alan Greenspan (BS '48, MA '50, PhD '77, Hon.'05).

Mr. Chips, of course, was just the fictional protagonist of a cherished 1934 novel. Dr. Bob is the real deal. He taught more than 15,000 students over his career, and their tributes, piling up on NYU Stern's special website (, prove it: "spellbinding," "inspiring," "mentor," "intellect," "warmth," "perspective," "ingenious," "supportive." For a professor with a passion for his subject, his profession, and the fullness of life, it doesn't get much better than that.

Marcus Nadler Professor of Finance and Economics Emeritus, Kavesh has long been a leader at the School. His scholarship on inflation and deflation, interest rates, and the stock market continues to be influential, and he is widely known for his work as a forecaster and analyst of economic and financial developments. He has served on numerous boards, has testified before Congress on economic issues, and has served on the Economic Advisory Board of the US Department of Commerce.

Equally, if not more, important are the relationships and careers he fostered during his own long career. Some 200 Kavesh fans attended a reception in May to honor Dr. Bob Kavesh that was hosted by two former chairmen of the Federal Reserve Bank, Greenspan and Paul A. Volcker (Hon. '83), and Wall Street sage Henry Kaufman (BA '48, PhD '58). They reminisced about their long associations with Kavesh, as students, friends, and comrades in the field of economics. Volcker, a self-described pessimist, praised the sunnier outlook affirmed in one of Dr. Bob's poems, "The World Belongs to Optimists" (above right).

With such a devoted following, it's no surprise that under Kavesh's early leadership and continued contribution, Stern's economics department has become one of the top programs in the country. In recognition, the School is establishing the Robert Kavesh Professorship in Economics to support the next generation of leadership in the department. The prestigious Robert Kavesh Professorship will attract the next generation of top scholars who possess the energy and vision to build upon his distinguished legacy.

Gifts to the Kavesh Professorship will be placed in a fund invested by the University, designed to exist in perpetuity. Income from the fund will support a top faculty member in his or her research and teaching. Special distinction is attached to such academic posts, which are supported by their own funds. Kavesh Professors will lead the School's economics department to even greater excellence. In a competitive market, endowed professorships are crucial to enabling Stern to attract this sort of visionary scholar, who possesses the kind of qualities that have made Dr. Bob a legend.

As one of his former students, Alan Levenson (MBA '84, PhD '87), chief economist at T. Rowe Price, wrote in appreciation: "Great teachers mold students as subject experts and as participants in larger human endeavors; I am privileged to be able to count Dr. Kavesh among my teachers."

Marilyn Harris is editor of Sternbusiness.