Jim Richardson poses with his mentees
Former UF professor Jim Richardson (seated, middle) poses with mentees Russ Carpenter (back left), Al Pareira (back middle), and Ron Canakaris (back right).

A lifetime of impact

Ask Jim Richardson’s former students about their professor, and they all rave about the same qualities. His lectures were engaging, his coursework helped them learn, and his career advice helped them make important decisions. But the one thing they all mention? The personal relationships he built that lasted long after their final exams.

Richardson made sure that his classes were more than a box to check before graduation. They often turned into a lifelong bond between teacher and student.

Richardson’s passion for students helped him seek whatever they needed to be prepared for the finance world after graduation. To him, that meant bringing people to campus who worked in finance and could share their wisdom with students.

“He always invited people from Wall Street to interface with his classes at UF,” Alan Pareira (BSBA ’60) said. “My recollection was Jim started his career at Hanover Bank in New York on Wall Street, so he had a feel for that part of finance and felt early on that finding a mechanism to bring that component of higher education and to his students was a great value add. It certainly was for me.”

Richardson’s mind was always on finding tangible ways to help students learn about finance. Ron Canakaris (BSBA ’66) even joked that Richardson often showed up a few minutes late to class because the market opened at the same time class began, and Richardson wanted to see how the market was performing. There were always tidbits and information that made students feel more connected to the class than a textbook could ever do.

“I didn’t have any financial background,” Russ Carpenter (BSBA ‘63) said. “I didn’t know much about it, so bringing in professionals in finance was important. It was just as important as the classwork he gave us. The real-world orientation to what we were learning was a big deal.”

Canakaris added, “Some classes you take and wonder how it helped you, but not with his. He tied it all together from the textbook to the real world.”

Today, The James G. Richardson Lectureship Endowment funds three integral areas among the finance department at the UF Warrington College of Business. It supports the Finance Professional Speaker Series, which brings finance professionals to talk about their expertise with Warrington students. The fund also supports three Richardson Faculty Fellows in the finance department — Brian Gendreau, Jim Parrino and Farid Aitsahlia – who bring their lengthy finance industry experience into the classroom. Lastly, the fund supports a course in value investing, taught by adjunct professor Canon Coleman, who spent 20 years as a portfolio manager at Invesco before teaching the course.

Richardson, who was also the three-time mayor of Gainesville, passed away in 1995 at 78 years old. But his impact continues to be felt through the students he guided along the way.


When Al Pareira first met Richardson, the professor moved Pareira to the back of the classroom.

“Jim was constantly challenging the class in its entirety but focused on me for some reason,” Pareira said. “At 19 or 20 years old, I was obnoxious to most and Jim’s class was a challenge for me. But he seemed to feel as if there might be some potential in me.”

Pareira began to realize that potential as his personal relationship with Richardson grew stronger. When Pareira went to Wall Street after graduation, his contact with Richardson didn’t slow. And when he fell on hard times in his career, Richardson was always there to listen or help.

“I had significant stumbles a few times early in my career,” Pareira said. “Jim was there to assist me while recovering from losing a position and having a difficult time. From there, I achieved a lot more than I should have in large part because of the background Jim gave me.”

Today, Pareira serves as the Chairman of the Board at Florida Atlantic Securities.

Richardson didn’t serve only as an encourager for Pareira. The two also worked together at First Equity Corporation of Florida. Pareira took over as CEO in 1971 during a tough period for the company when the Florida economy was struggling. After a few years, First Equity Corporation of Florida slowly started to grow and ended up doing well. During those tough times, Pareira asked Richardson if he would serve as Chairman of the Board for the company.

“From there on, largely because of Jim, we matured as a company and did much better,” Pareira said. “We eventually sold it to a larger company.”


As Russ Carpenter was trying to figure out his plans after college, he was leaning towards staying in school. His eyes were on an MBA, but when he told Richardson about that, his professor quickly had other thoughts. Richardson suggested Carpenter go straight to Wall Street and earn immediate experience, then his employer could send him to earn his MBA at night from NYU.

After that exact plan came to fruition, Richardson was there to make phone calls and help Carpenter get back to the state of Florida years later.

“He was huge in getting me off the ground,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter moved to Savannah in 1974 and led the oldest firm in the southeast, Minis & Co., which was founded in 1932. In 1974, it had $15 million under management. Carpenter built it to more than $500 million under management and later sold the company.

None of that would have been possible without Richardson’s impact.

“He was more than a mentor to me,” Carpenter said. “Somebody once said that the best people are the ones who have a positive impact on others’ lives. That’s what Jim did. That’s a real lasting legacy. My life would have been entirely different without him.”


When Ron Canakaris showed up for the first day of Richardson’s Fundamentals of Security Analysis class, Canakaris wasn’t sure what his future held. It was his first security analysis course and turned into a lifelong career, as well as an important personal relationship with Richardson.

“He made the class so fun and interesting,” Canakaris said. “He got everyone to participate and brought out the best in people. He was very supportive and positive, and everyone liked him. His comments on the market and economy had a big influence on what I was determined to do in my life. It seemed so interesting.”

There were plenty of things Canakaris took from the class into his career, but some of his standout memories were the quips that Richardson used to share with the classroom.

“He gave some real-world advice,” Canakaris said. “He’d say, “beware of people that dogs don’t like” and that always got a laugh. He’d also say, “beware of the truncated man.” And to this day, I don’t know that I can figure that one out.”

Today, Canakaris is Chairman Emeritus of Montag & Caldwell in Atlanta after a successful career in finance, but he’ll always think back to Richardson’s impact and knowledge that helped him have a successful career.

“He always wanted to know how I was doing,” Canakaris said. “He was just a lot of fun to be with. It might be too much to say he was bigger than life, but it was kind of like that. He was one of a kind and a person you respected so much. At the same time, you just thought he was so fun to be with and you were totally at ease with him. You were truly a friend for life.”