MOBIT: Fishman, Jay, 2002 De La Salle Medal winner, died on 2016-Aug-19


August 30, 2016, Volume 63, No. 03

Jay Fishman, Penn Trustee

Penn Charter Trustee Jay Fishman, W’74, WG’74, died on August 19 at the age of 63.

Most recently, he and his wife, Randy, directed significant support to comprehensive at-home respiratory care for adult Penn Medicine patients with chronic respiratory insufficiency due to neurological, muscular, skeletal or chronic respiratory diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) (See here).

Mr. Fishman was “a printer’s son from the Bronx who went on to become one of the most admired CEOs in this country but never forgot his Penn roots,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. He was a member of Penn’s Board of Trustees over the last 11 years; he was a Charter trustee and past chair of the Audit and Compliance Committee, a past member of the Executive Committee and a member of the Development and Budget and Finance Committees. He also was an Overseer of Penn’s Graduate School of Education and Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine as well as a member of myriad committees, including the Class of 1974 Reunion Gift Committee, the Parent Leadership Committee, the Penn Alumni Board of Directors, the Advisory Board of the Alumni Council on Admissions, the Wharton Club of Minnesota Advisory Board, the Benjamin Franklin Society Committee, the Steering Committee for the Making History Campaign and the Industry Advisory Board of the Wharton Financial Institutions Center. He was also Chairman of the Travelers/Wharton Partnership for Risk Management and Leadership, which the company established in 2010.  He shared his legendary business expertise as a speaker at the Wharton School.

A 2011 Forbes article that extolled his virtues as “Wall Street’s Honest Man” praised his extraordinarily long-term thinking when it came to business. The magazine quoted him as saying, “I don’t want to be [just] a caretaker.  I want to leave something behind that was better than what I got.” President Gutmann said, “That very premise, which made Jay so successful in the business arena, also underlies his relationship with the University. Never just a caretaker, he truly has left Penn a better place.”

He was a strong supporter of Penn’s faculty and endowed the Fishman Family President’s Distinguished Professorship in 2014. He established the Fishman Vet Endowed Scholarship for veterinary students, the Shirley and Edward Fishman Memorial Fund, which provides financial support to outstanding Wharton undergraduates, and the Rodin-Fishman Summer Research Internship program, which provides summer internships for College students. He also enthusiastically offered internship positions within his company to Penn students.  Demonstrating the importance of family in his life, he also funded a paver on the Class of 1949 Generational Bridge spanning 38th Street. It permanently joins his name with those of his parents who encouraged him to attend Penn and the two sons who followed in his footsteps.

As a dean’s list student at Wharton, he was a member of Phi Delta Epsilon, the Beta Alpha Psi accounting fraternity and the Beta Gamma Sigma business honor society. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Wharton in 1974 and then joined the Coopers and Lybrand accounting firm as an audit supervisor. He went on to work for American Can Company and the private investment and leveraged buyout firm Goergen and Sterling. He later served as a senior executive at Shearson Lehman Brothers, Primerica Corporation, Citigroup and the Travelers Group, where he was President, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He joined The St. Paul Companies in 2001 as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.  When that insurance firm merged with the Travelers Property Casualty Corp. in 2004, Mr. Fishman went on to become Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the merged St. Paul Travelers Companies, the second-largest commercial insurance firm in the United States and the oldest business corporation in Minnesota.

He was well-known for his unwavering focus on long-term growth, even when it might have seemed to some that he was sacrificing short-term success. Under his steadfast leadership, Travelers continued to report profits throughout the country’s financial crisis and was noted for sagely avoiding the mortgage-related investments that plagued a large portion of corporate America.  A Forbes reporter wrote of him, “In an era of Wall Street excesses and irresponsible financial behavior, Fishman stood out for his decency and restraint.” He stepped down as CEO of Travelers in December 2015, but remained Chair of the Board.
As chief executive of Travelers, he also encouraged the company’s support of Penn and its initiatives. With his assistance, the Travelers/Wharton Partnership for Risk Management and Leadership Fund was established, as was the Mobile CPR Project, a pilot program to train community members in Hartford, Connecticut, in the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and spread the understanding of CPR to low-income communities.

A member of the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy, he was Chairman of the St. Paul Travelers Foundation and a Trustee of the Fishman Family Foundation.  His other philanthropic activities included service as Chairman of the New York City Ballet; Vice Chairman of the Corporate Fund Board of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; a board member of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Connecticut Public Broadcasting, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the National Academy Foundation, the New York Philharmonic, the Englewood (New Jersey) Hospital and Medical Center and the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and an advisory board member of the Jazz Foundation of America.

A highly respected leader, he was past Chairman of the American Insurance Association; a Director of Nuveen Investments, Inc., the Carlyle Group and Platinum Underwriters Holdings, Ltd.; Presiding Director of ExxonMobil Corp., and a member of the Business Roundtable, the Business Council and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Mr. Fishman received the 2011 Joseph Wharton Award for Leadership, presented by the Wharton Club of New York, and Manhattan College’s 2002 De La Salle Medal, which recognizes excellence in business and corporate leadership.

Mr. Fishman is survived by his wife, Randy; their sons Jordan, C’03 and his wife Rebecca, and Scott, C’06, WG’12 and his wife Nicki; and three grandchildren.

Contributions may be made to the Randy and Jay Fishman Program for Home Assisted Ventilation, payable to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, c/o Kate Griffo, Penn Medicine Development & Alumni Relations, Suite 750, 3535 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19104-3309.

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Colon, Philip J. (MC1962) added this request to his prayer circle.

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