When Dr. Carl Moneyhon first taught Tod Kersten in the early 1980s, he knew his student was headed for an Ivy League education.
“Tod Kersten took World Civilization from me,” said Moneyhon, professor of history at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. “He was one of the brightest students I have ever come across at the university. He had incredible potential, and we encouraged him to go to Yale to finish his education. We encouraged him to believe that he could succeed at anything he wanted to succeed at.”
Kersten, who attended UA Little Rock from 1979 to 1981, did indeed transfer to Yale University and graduated in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in evolutionary biology, though he ended up pursuing a successful career in finance and banking.
“Studying Darwinian selection turned out to be excellent preparation for life as an investment banker,” Kersten said.
He now works as the managing director of DC Advisory Investment Banking in Warsaw, Poland. He has also worked as a managing director at Lazard in London and served in the U.S. Department of Treasury, where he was the U.S. Treasury advisor to two different ministers of finance in central Europe.
In recent years, Kersten has named three Yale scholarships, two of them after the UA Little Rock professors who encouraged him to complete his education. Yale alumni who donate $10,000 or more to the Alumni Association may name a one-year scholarship in honor of a person of their choosing.
“I don’t know how to thank the university,” Kersten said. “UA Little Rock was really good to me and got me off to a great start as a 17-year-old freshman. I had some really great teachers, especially Carl Moneyhon and Roger Webb. It was a very nice, safe, and friendly place to get started.”
In 2016, Kersten named one the Professor Roger Webb Ph.D. Scholarship in honor of the UA Little Rock professor emeritus of psychology who also attended Yale University. In 2017, Kersten named another scholarship the Professor Carl Moneyhon Ph.D. Scholarship.
“Carl Moneyhon and Roger Webb made a big impression on me,” Kersten said. “To me, they are only coincidentally professors of history and psychology, although they are at the top of their fields. For me, they were professors of life. In all my varied travels, I never met anyone who was more civilized or more dedicated to helping others.”
Moneyhon, meanwhile, was humbled that his former student and friend would honor him in such a meaningful way.
“It was a totally unexpected thing,” Moneyhon said. “I am retiring next year, and he was one of my very first students. I’m very honored that he thought of us. You work 43 years teaching everything from freshmen to graduate students, and the vast majority go through your life and you never know what happened to them. This lets me know that my teaching has had an impact after all these years. It makes you realize what a remarkable opportunity being a university educator is.”