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April 26, 2002 -- News Brief
Scholar, mentor, friend -- Julian Simon inspired loyalty throughout his remarkable career from colleagues, associates, and students, a number of whom gathered recently to commemorate the provocative and indefatigable economist, who died unexpectedly in 1998 at the age of 65. Held on April 24 on the Urbana campus, the day-long Julian Simon Memorial Dedication Symposium celebrated the life, achievements, and personality of a scholar who won, among many other accolades and distinctions, the nickname of "Doomslayer." The event also announced the establishment of the Julian Simon Memorial Faculty Scholar Endowment in the College of Commerce and Business Administration.
The symposium was moderated by Simon's widow, Rita James Simon, University Professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University, who said, "Julian would be amazed that all of this has happened in his honor." Presenters ranged from CBA professors who worked with Simon while he was a member of the college's economics faculty, to long-time friends and one-time neighbors, to former students who themselves have gone on to distinction.
Simon was perhaps best known for his work "The Ultimate Resource," in which he advanced a boundless optimism in the limitless ingenuity of the human intellect and the agility of the free market in overcoming obstacles to prosperity and well being. He was a formidable adversary of conservation and environmental constraints, for which he won admiration and ire alike. An economics professor at CBA from 1963 to 1983, Simon subsequently joined the faculty of the University of Maryland and also became a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He achieved particular renown - including the "Doomslayer" epithet - for his work on population control, refuting widely held Malthusian claims of the 60s and 70s that an overpopulation crisis was imminent. He was also a benefactor to many air travelers - whether they knew it or not - for investing the "auction" systems, whereby travelers on an oversold flight may exchange their seats for such considerations as free round-trip tickets.
Economics faculty member Larry Neal offered an eloquent tribute to Simon, touching on events both professional and personal. He noted that Simon's defining characteristic as an economist was forcing each of us to question and justify our customary habits of thought and analysis. Following the symposium, a dedication ceremony and reception was held. Making brief remarks were (l-r in photo at right) Avijit Ghosh, CBA dean, Richard Herman, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, Rita Simon, A. James Heins, CBA emeritus professor of economics, and Nancy Heins.
Other presenters included Jack Waaler, attorney, City of Urbana; Carl B. Barnes (BS '69, MS '72 Econ), president, Reed Lumber Company LLC; A. James Heins; Stephen K. Moore (BS '83 Econ), president, Club for Growth and contributing editor, National Review; James W. Carey, professor of journalism, Columbia University; Robert L. Bradley, Jr., president, Institute for Energy Research; Peter C. Bruce, president, Resampling Stats, Inc.; and Jeffrey O'Connell, Samuel J. McCoy II Professor of Law, University of Virginia.
The Julian Simon Memorial Faculty Scholar Endowment has been established, in perpetuity, in the University of Illinois Foundation by leadership gifts from A. James Heins and Rita James Simon. It will support the work of a promising junior faculty member in the College of Commerce and Business Administration. Gifts from family, friends, and colleagues to the endowment fund will acknowledge Simon's distinguished service at Illinois. For additional information about a gift to this endowment, contact Christine Lockmon by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 217-333-6434.
For additional information on the symposium, see the article in the News-Gazette online.