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Chicago Mercantile Exchange Chairman Emeritus to Speak

Leo Melamed’s lecture celebrates grant to Kapnick Business Institutions Program

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March 13, 2012 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) chairman emeritus Leo Melamed -- known around the world as one of the founding fathers of financial futures -- will speak at Northwestern University Tuesday, April 3. 

His lecture, “Derivatives: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” celebrates a $538,000 three-year grant from the CME Group Foundation that is being used to expand class offerings and programming on markets and society in the University’s Harvey Kapnick Business Institutions Program (BIP). The creation of an electronic “trading room” replete with four trading computers and a Bloomberg terminal providing up-to-the-minute financial market news and market data also is made possible by the grant.

Melamed’s free and public lecture will take place at 5 p.m. in Room 107 of Harris Hall, 1881 Sheridan Road, on the Evanston campus. A reception will follow. A 4 p.m. “trading room” ribbon-cutting ceremony at BIP headquarters at 2010 Sheridan Road will precede Melamed’s Harris Hall lecture.

Part of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the Kapnick Business Institutions Program -- which serves more than 600 students -- offers a minor in business institutions to undergraduates from a wide range of academic fields across the University. 

“It makes perfect sense that Melamed will be on hand to celebrate our new electronic ‘trading room,’” said Stephen Levin, who teaches “Financial Markets in the Global Society.” That popular BIP survey course takes a liberal arts approach to the history and evolution of markets, the psychology of the marketplace, risk and risk transfer, price discovery, the trading process and other market-related topics. 

“Melamed isn’t only responsible for envisioning and creating the first futures market for financial instruments,” Levin said. “He also spearheaded the creation of Globex, a widely known electronic trading system. The platform remains among the fastest global electronic trading systems for futures and options and is one of the world’s premier marketplaces for derivatives.”

When Levin began teaching “Financial Markets in the Global Society” in 2004, most Business Institutions Program students took his course to gain a general knowledge and understanding of how markets work. “Over the years, we increasingly are teaching students who are expressing interest in trading-related careers,” he said.

In addition to the newly created “trading room,” the CME Group Foundation grant will help fund classes in financial risk and other subjects, not-for-credit BIP workshops featuring veteran traders and financial professionals, and expanded Chicago Field Studies internship opportunities with trading companies.

Melamed was among the first people to envision financial marketplaces in which electronic trading would replace the colorful, crowded and chaotic trading pit that some still associate with marketplaces today. 

“Almost all trading now is done electronically, through software and computers,” said Levin. “Melamed didn’t just experience the extraordinary changes in the markets of the last four decades. He helped make them happen.”  

For more about the Kapnick Business Institutions Program or the April 3 Melamed lecture, email lucym@northwestern.edu or visit the program’s website at http://www.northwestern.edu/bip/.

Topics: University, Campus Life