He might be new to the teaching profession, but adjunct professor Chris Bates is a veteran with a wealth of experience when it comes to the financial world. And so when he took two LIU Post students to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in June, he was greeted there as an old timer by his former colleagues who welcomed him back.
From 1980 to 2004, Bates was a member of the stock exchange.
“My grandfather had passed away and I got his seat,” Bates explained.
Back in February 1980, Bates was taking night classes in criminal justice at John Jay College while working during the day as a clerk at NYSE for the firm of his maternal grandfather, George Robb, who lived across the street from his family in an affluent Queens neighborhood. On a winter evening when he returned from his job, his mother and father sadly told him that his grandfather had been found murdered at his home. Bates could see police and TV news crews still on the scene.
Bates left school, joined the exchange and eventually carved out a very lucrative career. When he retired from Wall Street as managing director of Goldman Sachs in 2004, he rang the closing bell—and struggled to keep his emotions in check.
Once he’d helped to get his six kids on the college track—in fact, one daughter just graduated from Post in May, while his youngest daughter Tara is a sophomore, and a third recently received her master’s in education from LIU —Bates decided to complete his own degree and so he came to Post.
Seated in the second row of Professor Sean Grennan’s criminal justice class in 2012, Bates was startled to learn that Grennan had been the NYPD homicide detective who helped crack his grandfather’s murder case—the murderer had been arrested months after the crime and ultimately served 26 years in prison. For both Bates and Grennan, that moment in the classroom provided some much-needed closure.
Bates got his bachelor’s and his master’s degrees within 22 months. And now at the College of Management, which is nationally renowned for valuing professional engagement in the classroom, he’s teaching his first class this summer, with more to come.
“It’s kind of weird how everything comes around again,” Bates said with a laugh. “I love my college—it’s my alma mater!”
So, on a recent June day, Bates took Jessica Milad, a senior who expects to graduate this winter with a bachelor of science degree in management, and Dylan Baldessari, a sophomore finance major who is president of LIU’s Finance Club, an extracurricular activity with about 25 student members that now boasts a portfolio of more than $100,000 thanks to donations. Both students were thrilled by the opportunity to accompany their professor to the heart of Wall Street.
“It really validated my love for finance,” explained Baldessari, “because I never knew what it was outside of textbooks. We met tons of people, a lot of analysts.”
“It’s always been a dream of mine to visit the floor of the stock exchange,” exclaimed Milad. “It’s something that not everybody gets to see—and we got a firsthand look!”
They also got to hold the gavel.
“One of the guys we met we ended up seeing on CNBC after we left,” she added. “It was very cool to have that insider experience because Professor Bates worked in finance for a very long time and he introduced us to everybody. We were able to get front-row seats, which was very exciting.”
“In the fall, I’m going to take my class to the New York Stock Exchange and hopefully that will be a larger crowd,” Bates said. “I do it because I love working with the kids!”