Stan Ross Department of Accountancy Professor Martin Benis died on Dec. 20, 2010. He was 83 years old.
Benis taught at Baruch College for over 30 years, from 1972 to 2005. His areas of accountancy expertise were financial reporting, accounting theory, and auditing.
During his long career, Benis held many leadership positions, including the chair of Baruch’s accountancy department and an American Accounting Association regional vice presidency. He consulted to over 100 domestic and international accounting firms and was a former director and chair of the audit committee of two publicly held companies. Benis earned a BS in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in taxation and a PhD in accounting from NYU.
“Apart from a short stint lecturing part time at NYU in the beginning of his teaching career, Martin Benis spent his entire academic career at Baruch, and he would still be in the classroom if that were possible,” said longtime colleague and former department chair Steven Lilien, Irving Weinstein Distinguished Professor of Accountancy. “He did have a prior career in industry, which is somewhat uncommon today, but his loyalty was to the department and College and then to the profession.” Lilien continued, saying that “Marty created opportunities for students and colleagues alike. As chair he engaged the business community, bringing those resources to the College. Others today have followed his model, raising it to even greater heights. As chair he made Baruch an enjoyable place to work, and our postseminar faculty lunches are still remembered today. At the same time, our department’s academic visibility grew under his leadership. He was more than a colleague; he was a friend and mentor.”
Benis was a Renaissance man, with wide-ranging interests outside of academia. “He particularly loved opera and serious theatre,” said his wife, Marie Jean Lederman, a retired Baruch professor of English. (The couple met 33 years ago at a Baruch College Commencement.) Benis was also passionate about travel, and the couple visited 26 countries, some more than once, for extended stays. He was renowned for his wonderful sense of humor and indomitable spirit, even as he dealt with limitations of a severe stroke he suffered seven years ago.
In honor of his parents and of Baruch’s accountancy students, in 1989 Benis endowed the Samuel and Lilyan Benis Award, which is given annually to the SEEK Program graduating senior who majored in accounting and achieved the highest GPA in accountancy. Alumni who would like to contribute toward this scholarship in Professor Benis’s memory should send their gifts to The Baruch College Fund/IMO Prof. Martin Benis, One Bernard Baruch Way, Box A-1603, New York, NY 10010-5585.