Business Professor's Mentorship Lives On

Professor Michael LaTour was recruited to join the School of Business in part to mentor younger faculty. Although he passed away in November 2015, just months after being hired, his support for his colleagues continues through the Michael LaTour Memorial Fund for Research Excellence. The fund provides grants to professors who are doing research that can be published in top-tier academic journals.

LaTour, who had been a professor of marketing and law at a number of universities before coming to IC, was passionate about research. His own investigations focused on consumer responses to promotional stimuli and spanned a range of topics, including the portrayal of women and sex in advertisements and memory and its effect on the consumer decision-making process.

The first recipient of a grant from the LaTour fund is assistant professor of management Duncan Duke. The funding is making possible Duke’s research on microfinance in Mexico. The growth of microfinance — the provision of small business loans typically by nonprofits to people living in poverty — has attracted the interest of for-profit banks. As the interest rates on microloans in Mexico are among the highest in the world, banks have been able to make a substantial amount of money from these loans.

“What I want to see is to what extent microfinance has gone from being an instrument for addressing poverty to becoming the new moneylender — essentially payday loans and predatory lending,” said Duke.

LaTour’s wife, Kathryn, said about her late husband, “He wanted not to be forgotten by people and for the award to continue his memory and his passion for research.”