Ispahani recounts his life in economics and education

Ahmed Ispahani, professor of business administration and economics, shares stories of his upbringing and his family’s businesses at the faculty lecture Tuesday in the Quay Davis Executive Board Room. Ispahani has been a member of the La Verne faculty since 1964. / photo by William Zeus Hardy
Ahmed Ispahani, professor of business administration and economics, shares stories of his upbringing and his family’s businesses at the faculty lecture Tuesday in the Quay Davis Executive Board Room. Ispahani has been a member of the La Verne faculty since 1964. / photo by William Zeus Hardy

Samira Felix
Staff Writer

Ahmed Ispahani, professor of business administration and economics, discussed his life journey in his lecture, “An Exciting Life in Teaching and Consultancy,” Tuesday in the Quay Davis Executive Board Room.

Ispahani discussed in detail his childhood, education and how he became a professor at the University of La Verne.

Matthew Witt, professor of public administration, introduced Ispahani by listing his accomplishments from becoming an assistant professor of economics at La Verne College in 1964 to becoming a professor of business administration and economics in 1976.

“He is a prince among men,” Witt said. “He has been a constant source of inspiration, wisdom, good cheer and a sort of welcoming ambassador to everyone who is ever a new faculty member at this University. It has been a real honor to be in the same college with him now for many years.”

Ispahani told how he traveled extensively as a child because his parents and grandparents had a soap manufacturing business.

“As a child I became very interested in traveling and seeing different countries around the world. I went to school in Bombay, India; Karachi, Pakistan; and went back and forth to Iran,” Ispahani said.

India received its independence from Great Britain in 1947. As a result of this, Ispahani’s grandfather thought it would be a good idea to close the soap manufacturing plant they had in India and expand the plant they had in Pakistan.

Ispahani said that he was in high school in Karachi, which was run by Dutch priests, when his parents and grandparents decided to retire and go back home to Iran.

“We received our education in Karachi, but most of our teachers were British. Our exams were given to us by the University of Cambridge,” Ispahani said. “They left me alone in Pakistan and kept the house. They kept a servant who took care of me while I finished high school.”

After high school Ispahani studied at the University of Karachi, where he received his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1959. He moved back to Iran after college and his family wanted him to join the family business, but he did not want to join.

Ispahani said his uncle encouraged him to get his masters degree from the University of Southern California, but his family wanted him to go to the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. He compromised with his parents by agreeing to go to the American University of Beirut, but if he didn’t like it they would have to let him go to USC.

“I had no plans to stay in Beirut. Beirut was so beautiful and it was just so incredible there, but my mind was set on California,” Ispahani said. “After a few days in Beirut I called my parents on the phone and told them that I didn’t like it, so they sent me the ticket for California.”

Ispahani said after two years he received his masters in economics from USC. His plans were to return to Iran after he graduated, but his professors encouraged him to stay and get his doctorate. 

After speaking with his parents, Ispahani decided to stay and get his doctorate in economics from USC.

Ispahani said his professor wanted him to have the draft for his dissertation professionally typed, so he bought a typewriter, but it was very difficult for him because he had to start over completely if he made mistakes.

He didn’t want to ask his parents for more money to have his dissertation typed, so he decided to get a job. 

Ispahani said he saw a job listing for the University of La Verne. He called the University and then-President Harold Fasnacht answered the phone himself. They scheduled a job interview for the following day.

Two hours after the interview Isaphani received a phone call from Fasnacht letting him know that he had received the job and his contract was in the mail.

“I didn’t know what to say. I was so shocked,” Ispahani said.

Ispahani said he took the job because he needed to pay for the typing of his dissertation.

“I had no intention of going into teaching and I was not interested in teaching. The only reason was that I did not want to ask my parents for money,” Ispahani said.

After a year Ispahani decided to stay another year at the University and he continued to stay, which has turned into him teaching for more than 50 years.

“I love to teach and I love my students. La Verne has been so good to me and I want to give back. La Verne and America have been so good to me. I like to give back to the University,” Ispahani said. “I could have retired a long time ago, but I love it so much. I will stay here as long as I am healthy and as long as I am relevant. The day I am no longer relevant or healthy I will quit.”

Amnaa Taha, freshman political science major, said she was glad she attended the lecture.

“It was very fun and interesting to learn of somebody with a different background and just their story of coming to America, their education and how they came to the University,” Taha said.

Witt said that he admires Ispahani’s journey and believes that he is an exemplary professor.

“The breadth of his experiences, the international scope of his devotions and commitments and professional work represent some of the best that we do here at the University, so long as he is here it is an enchanting place,” Witt said.

Samira Felix can be reached at samira.felix@laverne.edu.

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Samira Felix, a sophomore journalism major, is a staff writer for the Campus Times.

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William Zeus Hardy, a senior photography major, is a staff photographer for the Campus Times. His work can also be found at williamhardy.mypixieset.com.

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