Honorary Degree: 1999

Leo Melamed


On Sunday, May 16, 1999, the University of Illinois conferred an honorary degree on Leo Melamed, chairman and CEO of Melamed & Associates, Inc., and chairman emeritus and senior policy advisor of Chicago Mercantile exchange, is recognized as the founder of financial futures markets. he was responsible for introducing foreign currency futures in 1972 and led the Chicago Mercantile into becoming the first futures market for financial instruments.  During hid 25 years of leadership at the exchange, Melamed was primary influence that elevated the futures exchanges in Chicago into the agricultural and financial futures of the world.

The futures industry has had unparalleled impact on the economies of Chicago and the state of Illinois. the Chicago exchanges have brought about $35 billion of margin deposits to Chicago banks. The futures exchanges have created more than 150,000 jobs, directly and indirectly, in the financial sector of Chicago, plus thousands more in such areas as health care, retailing, and support services. The futures industry and related activities have brought immeasurable economic returns and commerce to Illinois.

Melamed is a trader, innovator, and author. he has enjoyed the recognition of colleagues, and his ideas have won him praise in academia. He has promoted the professional integrity of futures industry, contributed much to civic life by participating in worthy causes, and served on the Council of the united States Holocaust Museum.

Melamed was born in Poland, from where he and his parents escaped and emigrated to United States in 1941. Melamed graduated from Roosevelt high school in Chicago, attended the University of Illinois at Navy Pier, and has a law degree from John Marshall Law School in Chicago. He is the editor of one book and the author of three, one an autobiography entitled Escape to Futures. Melamed is Married and has three children.