Spotlight on Norris L. Larrymore, PhD: Alum, engineer, manager, advisor, educator

faculty members at a school event

Professors Norris Larrymore and Miguel Modestino welcome the incoming class of 2023 at the Students of Color Reception

When Norris L. Larrymore enrolled in what was then the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in September 1964, his first-year class of 400 contained just nine Black students. Four years later, he was the only one of those nine who had persevered to earn his degree.

He credits some of his success to his strong mentors. “Early in my freshman year I met two Black upperclassmen, McDonald Richards, who was studying chemical engineering, and Donald Gaylord, who was studying systems engineering,” Larrymore says. “From them, I learned the importance of having high expectations.”

That philosophy served him in good stead after he earned his degree in electrical engineering and embarked on a career in industry — as well as when he returned to school to earn an MBA from Wharton (1974), a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Arkansas (2001), and a doctoral degree in finance from that university’s Sam M. Walton College of Business (conferred in 2002).

Despite his time in industry, which included stints at IBM and Exxon, Larrymore’s career has most often found him in front of a classroom; he has taught at such institutions as Grambling State University, Jackson State University, the University of Arkansas, Quinnipiac University, and St. John’s University and has held a research appointment at Northwestern University. In 2013 he returned to Brooklyn to teach courses in Corporate Finance and Financial Markets as a member of Tandon’s Department of Finance and Risk Engineering. “The Brooklyn engineering school campus will always be my home,” he says.

He is happy to see Tandon’s student body becoming increasingly diverse and proud that in October 2019, during NYU Alumni Day, he was inducted into the Perstare Society, which honors NYU graduates celebrating reunions of 50 years or more, and the Golden Jubilee Society, which celebrates the same milestone at the School of Engineering.

His guidance is the same for anyone seeking to follow in his footsteps, no matter what their demographic group. “Here is the advice that I feel is most relevant to all my students,” he says. “Distinguish yourself in your preparation for a fiercely competitive job market. You cannot know everything, so know something very well. Take the tough courses. I never ducked a teacher, course, or program that had a relevant, but tough reputation. The experience is sometimes painful, but often, you will learn more. You fail when you do not set your standards high enough.”

Even decades after he first stepped foot into a classroom, Larrymore’s goals for himself remain ambitious. He is the co-founder of an advisory firm, Dorotheos Capital Partners, Ltd., which focuses on financial technology (fintech) and real estate in Francophone West Africa, and he is currently engaged in a serious study of French. “I’ll continue working at it until I am fluent,” he asserts.