Berea College’s Recognition Ceremony for Mid-Year Graduates was held Sunday, Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. in Phelps Stokes Chapel. Jim Branscome, retired managing director for investment analysis of Standard & Poor’s (S&P), addressed the seniors who completed their degree requirements at the end of this term. The Berea College graduates represent 14 states and 10 other countries.
Branscome graduated from Berea College in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science before embarking on a successful 37-year career. In 2018, Berea College presented him with the Distinguished Alumni award.
A native of Carroll County, Virginia, and the first in his family to graduate from both high school and college, Branscome’s career includes serving as the regional coordinator for Stanford University Center for Research and Development in Teaching, co-chairing the Poverty Task Force for the White House Conference on Youth, working as a correspondent for McGraw-Hill and the Washington Post, primarily covering Appalachia and earning notoriety as an investigative reporter. Later, Branscome became editor-in-chief of McGraw-Hill News, where he supervised 60 editors and reporters in seven cities worldwide and oversaw editorial operations of S&P’s news service. His 1971 New York Times magazine cover story on coal strip mining in Appalachia helped lead to federal regulations in 1972.
Branscome went on to serve S&P for 17 years in various roles, spearheading the creation of S&P’s Investment Advisory Services and setting global direction and management for the analytical, editorial and index businesses. He helped create and licensed the first exchange-traded mutual fund based on the S&P 500 that now has $262 billion in assets under management. He retired in 2007 as the managing director for investment analysis and was a member of S&P’s Index Service’s executive board. During his retirement, Branscome has served the Colorado Mesa University Foundation in various roles. He was appointed by Colorado’s governor to a Commission on Higher Education panel. He now resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife, Sharen.