If teaching at the same institution for 44 years isn’t enough to validate Prof. Ismail Shariff’s commitment to a University of Wisconsin-Green Bay education, consider that he also convinced his son, brother-in-law, and four grandchildren to attend UWGB before retiring in 2011.
The economist who continues to advise the World Bank, travels nationally to present on economic issues, and spends a day a week at the emeriti office on campus, said he found an environment of respectful collegiality along with deep meaning in the interdisciplinary, problem-focused academic program during his more than four decades with UW-Green Bay.
“My major professor at UW-Madison asked whether I was interested in a university job and set up an appointment to see (founding Chancellor) Dr. Edward Weidner. Apart from other things, Weidner explained to me the interdisciplinary curriculum he planned on adapting. I didn’t quite understand his philosophy, but he offered me the job and gave me seven days to reply. I came to benefit as a scholar and teacher, as did our students, from an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving.”
Shariff set out on what became his personal mission: “to prepare and equip future generations of citizens to meet challenges in society and the workplace and in a global context.”
“I believe these goals can be accomplished through a well-rounded educational career which provides breadth and depth of knowledge, insights, and understanding; along with the analytical skills and tools to deal with any exigencies one may encounter on the journey of life.”
Shariff believes UWGB provides this kind of education and through the years became a believer in “Weidner’s novel approach, since adopted by many other reputable institutions.”
“I came to enjoy the significance of the interdisciplinary curriculum, and the breadth of problem solving that came about from working with economists, geographers, political scientists, geologists, sociologists, demographers, statisticians, psychologists and others.”
He so fully appreciated the practical value of a UW-Green Bay education that he advised his children, grandchildren and brother-in-law that UW-Green Bay could provide an undergraduate experience “equal to Ivy League or any other bachelor program in the U.S.”
His family trusts in his wisdom. His son Mazkoor ‘89 graduated with a degree in Business Administration. His brother-in-law Javeed graduated in ‘80 with a degree in Environmental Sciences. His granddaughter Julia will graduate in May of 2015 with a Human Biology degree and honors, and aspiration to attend medical school. Of his three grandsons, Alexander will graduate in May 2015 with a major in Graphic Arts; Zachary is a junior majoring in Political Science and Jacob will enter UWGB as a sophomore in fall of 2015.
Shariff has more than 80 published papers in professional journals in the United States, U.K. and Asia. He is the author of two books, International Trade – Theory and Policy; and Business Cycles in a Dynamic Recovery. In his works and presentation in Italy in 2002, the editor and founder of the Schumpeter Lectures Series, V. Orati, wrote about the “brilliant and fearless” contribution of Dr. Shariff to the discussion about globalization.
Among his proudest moments were the peer-nominated Founders Awards for Excellence in Scholarship in 2002 and Community Outreach in 1997. An occasional e-mail from former students, and thank-you cards from recipients of the Ismail Shariff Endowed Scholarship he established in 2009 are greatly appreciated, he says.
“Something that is more rewarding than any other benefits one can draw, is contributing to the future well-being of our citizens,” he said. “I always hoped to keep their interest at heart.”
Among the honors for Shariff over the years:
• 1997 University Award for Excellence in Community Outreach. Notable were a weekly column in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, and involvement in the Chamber of Commerce, Junior Achievement and SIFE.
• Carrying the ceremonial University Mace at commencement and other academic occasions, an honor accorded the senior-most faculty member. Shariff carried it from 2005 to 2012.
• On March 24, 1994 his name was entered in the Congressional Record from the floor of the U.S. Congress in recognition of his extensive research on the relevance of American Aid to Developing Countries.
• In 1999, he was awarded a prestigious named professorship at UW-Green Bay and bestowed the title Philip J. and Elizabeth Hendrickson Professor for Business.
• In 1991, he was selected to represent the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades (GATT) meetings in Tokyo.
• In 1979, he was voted one of the “enterprising people” in Economic Education by the Wisconsin State Council on Economic Education.
• From 1975-77 he was a United Nations economic adviser to the government of Nigeria.
From left: grandsons Zachary and Alexander, Ismail Shariff, grandson Jacob, granddaughter Julia and son Mazkor. Missing from the UWGB/Shariff family — brother-in-law Hajee Masood Javeed