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Remembering Professor Richard S. Bower

Richard S. Bower, the Leon E. Williams Professor of Finance and Managerial Economics, Emeritus, was a legendary teacher and scholar who was universally loved. He passed away on July 29 at the age of 91.

For a generation of Tuck students from the early 1960s through the 1980s, Richard S. Bower was the professor who introduced them to the rigor of the MBA classroom.

He did this through his venerable core course Managerial Economics. The name of the course may conjure a dry, lecture-based attentional endurance event, but Bower’s teaching style was far from that. Nicknamed the “dancing bear,” Bower was an energetic and engaging presence at the front of the room. He often broke into song when he wasn’t challenging his students to be the thoughtful, articulate, and diligent business leaders he knew they could be. He would write mathematical formulas on the blackboard faster than his students could read them, but at the end of the course he personally made sure each of his students walked away with principles that would serve them well in their careers. He retired in 1990, but continued teaching until 1999.

Bower, the Leon E. Williams Professor of Finance and Managerial Economics, Emeritus, passed away at his home in Hanover on July 29, just a few days shy of his 92nd birthday. Immediately after Dean Matthew J. Slaughter shared the sad news of Bower’s death with the Tuck community, notes from faculty colleagues and alumni poured in, remembering him as a role model, mentor, gifted teacher, noted scholar, Tuck cheerleader, and a warm and compassionate human being. “If business schools can have a conscience and a soul, Dick served in that role and performed it well,” says longtime friend and former student Dave Downes T’69.

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A widely published scholar in the areas of economics, finance, and regulation, Dick’s professional activities also included serving as editor of the journal Financial Management, as President of the Financial Management Association, and as a Commissioner on the State of New York Public Service Commission.

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Bower first visited the Upper Valley as a boy, attending Camp Kokosing in Thetford Center, Vermont. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College in 1949, his MBA from Columbia University in 1955, and his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1962. Shortly after his wedding, he and his wife Dorothy (Dot) were driving around New England, and when they arrived in Hanover, Dot remarked that it was one of the few places in the region she would like to live. Bower began his MBA teaching career at Vanderbilt, and a few years later he accepted an offer at Tuck.

Dick was an absolutely wonderful teacher. He was a performer in class, and he loved the students. He asked questions and followed up with more questions. He was trying to make them think.

Bower pioneered the now legendary Managerial Economics course (ManEc), and within it he also created the First-Year Project program for students to apply the course’s concepts in the context of consulting engagements. When he finished teaching ManEc, the school deemed the projects so effective and important that they became a free-standing part of the core curriculum that lives on to this day.

Gert Assmus joined the marketing area of the Tuck faculty in 1970, around the same time Bower was appointed a commissioner of the State of New York Public Service Commission. Tuck asked Assmus to teach ManEc while Bower served as commissioner. To prepare, Assmus sat through every ManEc class session. “That was just a marvelous introduction,” Assmus recalls, “not only to the material but also to teaching at Tuck, because Dick was an absolutely wonderful teacher. He was a performer in class, and he loved the students. He asked questions and followed up with more questions. He was trying to make them think.”

Bower’s performance in the classroom especially stood out to Frank Herringer T’65. He wondered how Bower could speak for an hour or more, seemingly extemporaneously, and stay engaging and on-track. Some years later, Herringer asked Dot about it. “I’ll tell you a secret,” Dot said to Herringer, “he works at it. He practices for hours in front of a mirror with three-by-five note cards to get each phrase right and to try to make it look as effortless as possible.” Herringer, who served as the CEO and chairman of the Transamerica Corporation, took that lesson to heart, and made sure to over prepare for his presentations and speeches.

Peter Lengyel T’64 remembers being far out of his depth in ManEc, but it was the struggle to understand the material that gave him confidence. “His pushing and taking me to places where I had difficulty got me to a good place in my business life. I learned over time I could climb the mountain and do all right,” he says. Lengyel’s metaphor is apt for Bower, an avid hiker who climbed all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot mountains.

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The class of 1967 adopted Bower as a member at their 50th reunion, and last fall the Tuck Class of 1969 made him an honorary T’69 as well.

While Bower expected a lot from his students, in terms of preparation and rigorous analysis, it was no more than he expected of himself when he was on the other side of the lectern. He found himself there quite often, as a participant in Tuck’s research seminars, where scholars from around the world visit Tuck to present their latest work in progress. Bower was often the most prepared person in the seminar room, and he was famous for his ability to understand and provide valuable constructive criticism to presenters from every discipline. In recognition of Bower’s contribution to the seminars over the years, Tuck in 2004 established the Professor Richard S. Bower Finance, Economics, and Accounting Seminar Fund. He attended and participated in these seminars until this winter, when the pandemic prevented them from taking place.

His pushing and taking me to places where I had difficulty got me to a good place in my business life. I learned over time I could climb the mountain and do all right.

A widely published scholar himself, in the areas of economics, finance, and regulation, Bower’s professional activities also included serving as the editor of the journal Financial Management, and as president of the Financial Management Association. Among Bower’s co-authors was Dot, who worked at Tuck for many years as a research assistant and computer programmer, and preceded him in death in 2012. They had offices next to each other in the basement of Tuck hall, and they each had license plates that referred to programs they had written together. Bower’s plate was LAFFF (Language for the Aid of Financial Fact Finders) and Dot’s plate was CRIII (Computer Research Involving Investment Information). “I recall my dad loving his work at Tuck,” says Lori Bower Kaes, one of Bower’s three daughters. “He was often excited about student projects, and he loved his students and fellow faculty members, and he really enjoyed having my mother in the next office.”

Bower’s genuine affection for his students was evident in his frequent appearance at Tuck reunions. The Class of 1967 asked him to give a speech at their 45th Reunion; Bower obliged but insisted they didn’t want to hear a boring talk. He sang them a song instead. The class adopted him as a member at their 50th reunion, and last fall the Tuck Class of 1969 made him an honorary T’69 as well. “He really ended up being the professor who was ever present at Tuck, loyal to Tuck, and embodied a lot of the traditional spirit,” says Bill Hart T’67. “Whenever he came to my part of the country, he would get in touch with me and several other local alumni, and whenever we got to Hanover we’d go out of our way to find him and say hello, even if we had to go to Lou’s in the morning to catch him.”

He really ended up being the professor who was ever present at Tuck, loyal to Tuck, and embodied a lot of the traditional spirit.

The probability of seeing Bower at Lou’s was high—he and Dot ate breakfast there nearly every day. A picture of them is hanging on the wall above the lunch counter, taken when they were celebrating the restaurant’s 70th year in operation. After Dot passed away, Bower continued that tradition, often ordering a different dish for every day of the week—eggs every Monday, waffles every Tuesday, etc. In 1995, Bower and former Tuck Dean Colin Blaydon set up a First Year Project to study the profitability of the restaurant’s dinner service. The students found it was a money loser and recommended ending dinner service, or drastically changing it to what it is now: an express menu with limited items and minimal prep time. “I was always incredibly impressed that he was in his 90s and would walk here every day, hang out, and talk to people,” says Jarett Berke T’17, who assumed ownership of Lou’s last year. “It was great to have him. We don’t have too many daily customers, and he was one of them.” During the pandemic lockdown, Lou’s staff delivered breakfast to Bower every morning and ran errands for him. “They took really good care of him,” says Bower’s daughter Lori.

Tuck took care of Bower as well, and he reciprocated. And he found pure joy in that symbiosis. “Whenever I would talk to dad about Tuck, he just seemed to glow,” says Bower Kaes. “The Tuck years were great years for him and I am so very proud and happy that people remember my dad fondly and appreciate his contributions to that wonderful institution.”

In Our Own Words: Remembering Professor Richard Bower

"From the first day I met Dick at my job talk in 1993, to the last time I talked with him over a year ago, there was always a warm caring smile on his face and in his eyes, intellectual curiosity in his questions, and scholarly depth in his suggestions. He was such a wonderful role model, mentor, and friend. He will always be in our hearts, and so will Dot. Both of them lived a wonderful life, and though we know in our heads that old age spares no one, this still is such a big loss in our hearts."
—Kusum Ailawadi, the Charles Jordan 1911, TU’12 Professor of Marketing


"Dick was an exceptional professor and a gentleman as well. When I took his class first year I knew I had made the right decision to attend Tuck. He represented Tuck at the highest level and I am fortunate to have known him."
—Dana Callow T’79, founder and managing general partner, Boston Millennia Partners


"Professor Bower holds a special memory for me, as on January 12, 1976, when there was a beautiful new snowfall, I actually cut his class, and went to the Dartmouth Skiway, where I proceeded to have a quite serious fall and skiing injury. As the Tuck community is pretty small, within 24 hours the entire student and faculty community was aware of what happened to me. When I had to reach out to Professor Bower to apologize and explain I’d be missing classes for a few weeks while I was recovering from surgery, not only was he completely helpful and worked with me to get my work done, he was humorously forgiving of my clear error of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If I’d been in his class, I wouldn’t have gotten hurt, which he loved to remind me!"
—Alicia Cooney T’76, partner and managing director, Monument Group, Inc.


"Professor Bower made my Tuck experience so much richer and more fun. He was kind, smart and inspiring, and he pushed you to do your best. His enthusiasm was contagious even though he came out of retirement to teach my class. Tuck is lucky to have had him as a dedicated faculty member and I was blessed to have learned from him. In my mind, he embodied what it meant to choose Tuck over other top business schools."
—Rebecca E. Duseau T’96, general partner, Adamas Partners, L.L.C.


"I was thinking about Professor Bower the other day. His Managerial Economics class has been extremely valuable to me, in so many ways; I continue to use the ideas in my own teaching and research. I also took an elective with him, which focused on the economics associated with health care delivery, in which we were grappling with issues then that persist today. I visited Tuck a few years ago to give a seminar, and to my great delight Dick was there; and indeed, he was an active participant. I’ll never forget it."
—Steve Graves D’73, T’74, the Abraham J Siegel Professor of Management, MIT


"Professor Bower was a great teacher and a fantastic and very positive influence on all of us. We learned to work hard and think even harder on the First Year Projects, while at the same time enjoying every minute."
—Dan Ioschpe T’91, chair of the board, Iochpe-Maxion S.A.


"Not only was Dick Bower an honorary member of our marketing group, when I first came to Tuck, I had the pleasure of team teaching our Pricing course with him. It was an incredible experience both for me and for our students. Dick and I used to intellectually challenge each other in the classroom in front of our students, and our students were just fascinated by the back and forth interaction in the classroom. Students used to tell us that it was one of the best experiences they had at Tuck. I will always cherish those memories with Dick—including the one where he (along with our dear Bob Hansen) put me in the hot seat during my job talk at Tuck."
—Praveen Kopalle, the Signal Companies’ Professor of Management


"As a Tuck '64, I think we were among Dick's first students at Tuck. He was challenging and inspirational, but mostly I remember the twinkle in his eye and his enthusiasm for his material and for all of us. He was unique and will be missed."
—Barry Linsky T’64, executive vice president, emeritus, Interpublic Group


"Dick had a very significant impact on my career, and I am sure on many others’. He was an example, a mentor, and an inspiration to faculty who, like me, arrived at Tuck in awe of this place and a bit unsure of ourselves. He made clear that research and relevance were imperatives, and this combination brought excellence to the classroom. Dick was vocal about these values, but also lived them. His research was exemplary and he made the daring venture to serve as a Commissioner of the New York Public Service Commission. His “Man Ec” course was a gem—feeding off his expertise and his experience.

As Dean Slaughter recounts, Dick was a force at faculty seminars. His insights often surpassed those of the speaker! Among his honorary memberships, my marketing colleagues and I “appointed” him an honorary member of our group. He simply was extraordinary in the seminar venue.

Dick’s wife, Dot, served as Tuck’s computer programmer. Among her many contributions was working on faculty research projects. She was the forerunner, indeed the prototype, for our Research Scientists. Dot brought her own brand of professionalism, enthusiasm, and intellectual curiosity, to the occasion. Dick made clear that the two of them were a team—quite a team.

Personally, Dick taught me about what it means to be a Tuck faculty member, and more broadly, what it means to be a scholar. He brought perspective when I needed it most.

For Tuck, he was a paragon of the best we represent. We will miss him, but honor him by continuing on the path he so effectively illuminated for us."
—Scott Neslin, the Albert Wesley Frey Professor of Marketing


"Dick Bower was a remarkable teacher. He had a rare gift to mix theory and pragmatism during his classes. I can’t think of any important economic decision I had to take during my career where Professor Bower was not involved in the shadow."
—Jean-Claude Perrin T’72


"Professor Bower was an icon of the Tuck community for many of us. I will never forget him agreeing to pop out of the "paper cake" (done with special flair I might add) that we made for our female classmates’ collective bridal shower in the spring of '89. He was never one to turn down any ask for a student, no matter how small. He will surely be missed by so many, and the footprint he leaves behind, so large. He was a transformative part of my Tuck experience."
—Sara Spivey T’89, CMO, Braze


"Simply put, Professor Bower was an exemplary role model as an engaged, impactful, committed, generous, and thoughtful academic. He was even better as a person."
—Alva Taylor, Faculty Director, Glassmeyer/McNamee Center for Digital Strategies; Associate Professor of Business Administration


"I was very sorry to hear of the passing of Professor Bower. We were so pleased to have him show up at our T’89 reunion last year. He embodied the best of Tuck: rigorous intellect, fun loving, and devoted to his community."
—Marsha Trant D’84, T’89, executive, applications & infrastructure, Avanade


"[He] was a wonderful and enthusiastic person."
—Hal Chaffee T’70


“So many lives made richer, so much goodness sown among us! And what a great example for us to emulate. Inspires a fresh sense of fire to do more! Give more.”
—Chris Coombs T’70


"He was a vigorous teacher—tough but fair—and he always had that twinkle in his eye. I was looking forward to seeing him in October.”
—Jim Fish T’70


“Professor Bower was a wonderful teacher, a terrific advisor and an outstanding human being. Be not sad that he is gone, but rather thankful that he lived.”
—Rich Seigel T’70


“I discovered early on in his course that he often called on people who had not spoken up rather than just those who volunteered by raising their hands. So, my strategy was to volunteer aggressively when I was prepared so I wasn't called upon when I wasn't prepared.”
—Tom Tilghman T’70


“He was a wonderful man.”
—Doug Smith T’70


“In 1974, I was invited back to Tuck by Professor Bower to teach a class. My presentation was titled ‘Capital Budgeting in the New Product Development Process.’ The ironic part was that I had been least interested in Finance (his course) of all those I took at Tuck, and I probably did as poorly in that class as any. However, my 1974 teaching experience was a success, and I have this unlikely story to tell. He may have chosen to a.) overlook my poor class performance, b.) didn't remember me or c.) remembered me as a good student (unlikely), but he was very pleased with the class I taught.”

—Craig Tanner T’70


“Professor Bower stood out among the excellent Tuck faculty as an educator who significantly influenced many of us professionally and personally in our experiences after Tuck.
He had a wonderful curiosity, great sense of humor, and terrific ability to connect with his students, that were examples for all of us. He gave us a deep understanding of appropriate theories and methodologies to attack business issues and we applied that wisdom often in our careers and personal lives.

I am grateful for the education that he provided and know that there are thousands of Tuck graduates who benefitted from their experiences with him. While I am sure Professor Bower’s family is grieving his loss, their memories of times with him must be a great comfort.”

—Wayne Draeger T’70


“I had the privilege of working for Professor Bower the summer between my first and second year at Tuck doing some time-share computer programming for a local bank. Therefore, I got to know him a little better. He was a one-of-a-kind educator and a dedicated professional who really cared about his students and who was extremely well-liked by everyone he came in contact with.

In addition, Professor Bower was kind enough to also employ my wife that summer as a clerical assistant. We look back on that period as one of the best summers we have ever had. Furthermore, that income was a big and much-needed help in paying for my second year at Tuck! Thank you!”

—Joe Rokus T’70


"[He] was a wonderful and enthusiastic person."
—Hal Chaffee T’70