Craig Holden touched the lives of many. Those who came to know him remember his infectious laugh.
Holden died from an unexpected medical emergency April 3. He was 65. He was the Kelley School of Business finance department chair since 2018 and the Gregg T. and Judith A. Summerville Chair of Finance since 2020. He had worked at the school for over three decades.
Friends, colleagues and former students remember Holden as a kind father, a patient teacher and a leader devoted to his profession.
Throughout his career, Holden won multiple research and teaching awards, and his research on market microstructure had been cited more than 4,700 times, according to his personal website. He was also the author of “Excel Modeling in Investments” and “Excel Modeling in Corporate Finance,” two multi-editioned textbooks published worldwide.
Paolo Pasquariello, professor of finance at the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business, said he remembers Holden as an “incredibly nice human being.”
“The world has lost a good person,” he said.
Pasquariello said he was a doctoral student when he first met Holden at a 2002 conference in Utah, where Holden critiqued the paper he was presenting. Pasquariello said he expected harsh criticism, which was normal in the field of market microstructure, but was pleasantly surprised by Holden’s gracious, gentle and valuable feedback.
Holden was one of the rare scholars in his field of research who was highly accomplished, humble and kind at the same time, Pasquariello said.
“He would tell you things as they are, but without making you feel inadequate because you didn't have the experience yet,” he said. “He was always among the most gracious, the most gentle and polite and respectful individuals that I can think of in the profession.”
Stacey Jacobsen, Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business associate professor of finance and a former doctoral student of Holden’s, said he was a great friend and mentor who kept in touch over a decade after her graduation.
“On my behalf, there were few decisions, both big and small, that were not run by Craig,” she said. “He was really an active mentor to his students, both current and previous.”
In May 2020, Holden bid on behalf of the business school to virtually host the Society for Financial Studies Cavalcade North America conference. After the conference concluded, he wrote “How to Run a Large-Scale Virtual Conference,” a 23-page guide to help other conference organizers.
Wenyu Wang, Kelley School of Business associate professor of finance and Daniel C. Smith faculty fellow in Finance, said Holden pushed for holding the conference virtually when the organizers were considering canceling it due to the pandemic. He said Holden’s virtual conference guide was an example of his leadership and his contribution to academia.
“Because of his great efforts, I think couple big conferences also followed suit and were very successful,” he said. “It set a good example for how to hold these large online conferences.”
Pankaj Jain, University of Memphis professor and finance department chair, is one of Holden’s former master’s and Ph.D. students. He said Holden would go out of his way to help his students research and teach.
“My learning at IU and the value of IU education in my eyes multiplied by 100 times mainly because of him, because I had such a great professor,” he said. “That's why I fully attribute my character development and the desire to pay a lot of attention to students’ success mainly to professor Holden.”
Holden had the same influence as a father for him and for many in his academic field, Jain said.
Holden’s daughter Diana Tollison said Holden was a loving father who put his family first, willing to wear his coat like a cape as Drosselmeyer when she and her cousins wanted to perform “The Nutcracker” at home when they were little.
“He really prioritized us, and he was so proud of all of us,” she said. “He got so much joy out of seeing his children and his grandson grow and learn and develop, and out of their accomplishments.”
Tollison said one of the biggest impressions people have of Holden is his laugh.
“It was just this joyful, uninhibited laugh, and it was one of the things that people will always mention to me, was how they're going to miss his laugh,” she said. “And I'm really going to miss it too.”
Tollison said Holden was a teacher in all aspects of life and will live on in his family and in the lives of all he touched.
“He left us too soon, but he lived such a full life,” she said.
Holden is survived by wife Kathryn Holden, daughter Diana Tollison, son James Holden, son-in-law Lee Tollison, grandson Aiden Tollison, brother Brian Holden, and siblings-in-law Dean, Jim and Carolyn Kitchens.
An online message board has been set up for Holden’s colleagues and students.