Around the Quads
C. Lowell Harriss ’40 GSAS, professor emeritus of economics, died on December 14, 2009, at his home in Bronxville, N.Y. He was 97.
Born in Fairbury, Neb., on Aug- ust 2, 1912, Harriss graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1934. Upon graduation, he received a Sheldon Fellowship, which enabled him to travel for 13 months throughout Europe, including Berlin and the Balkans, as well as Turkey and Northern Africa. This trip was the beginning of a lifetime of travel that would take him around the world nine times.
Harriss served as an officer in the Army Air Corps from 1943–46, working on aircraft and manpower procurement, on the economic problems of the shift of fighting to the Pacific, and finally on the problems of economic demobilization and the postwar aircraft industry. He began teaching at Columbia in 1938 while pursuing a Ph.D. in economics at GSAS and remained at Columbia until retiring from teaching in 1981.
University Trustee Mark E. Kingdon endowed, in 1998, the C. Lowell Harriss Professorship of Economics in honor of “my teacher, mentor and friend.”
“I took Professor Harriss’ public finance course in the late 1960s, when it was not cool to be a conservative, especially at Columbia,” said Kingdon. “I remember Professor Harriss warning us about the extraordinary power of the government: ‘Nothing can be as cruel as the government.’
“During the 1970 student strike, I learned later, a classmate was picketing a building that the professor wanted to enter. ‘You can’t go in,’ my friend declared. ‘Why not?’ Professor Harriss asked. ‘Because then you would be a scab.’ In response, Professor Harriss brushed by and entered the building while declaring, ‘A scab is part of the natural healing process.’
“Teachers in the department on both the left and right loved the man. He was soft-spoken, tolerant, smart, non-dogmatic but firm in his beliefs. His classroom style was brusque, informative and clear. He committed many random acts of kindness, such as writing a complimentary note about me to my father, and helped students with letters of recommendation to his many friends that led to jobs or entry into grad school.
“I watched him age gracefully almost to the very end, vigorous in mind, body and spirit, an inspira- tion to us all. I miss him very much.”
Harriss also taught at Stanford, UC Berkeley, Yale, Princeton, The Wharton School, the New School for Social Research and Pace. He earned Fulbright professorships from the Netherlands School of Economics (now Erasmus University), Cambridge and the University of Strasbourg, France.
One of the last living economists to have experienced the Depression, Harriss authored 16 books on economics and hundreds of articles. He was known for his seminal work on taxation of land, property tax, finance reform, land values and planning land use.
Harriss also had advised state, federal and foreign governments on tax policy including the Depart- ment of Treasury; the City of New York; New York State; the Common- wealth of Puerto Rico; the Federal District of Venezuela; the Ministry of Finance, Republic of China; the United Nations; and the Agency of International Development of the U.S. Department of State.
Harriss met and married Agnes Bennett Murphy in 1936. She predeceased him in 1992. Harriss is survived by his children, L. Gordon ’68, Patricia, Martha and Brian; five grandchildren; and sister, Marion Engelhart.
Karl Kroeber ’56 GSAS, the Mellon Professor Emeritus in the Humanities, died on November 8, 2009, at his home in Brooklyn. He was 82.
Kroeber earned a bachelor’s from UC Berkeley in 1947 and a Ph.D. from Columbia in 1956. After teaching at the University of Wisconsin for 14 years, he returned to Columbia in 1970 and taught in the English and Comparative Literature Department until his retirement in June 2009.
A prolific scholar who published a wide variety of books, Kroeber was well-recognized for his work on Romantic poetry but also wrote on narrative theory, Native American literature and ecology, among other subjects.
Kroeber was known for being a demanding but compassionate professor who relentlessly chal- lenged his students. “He’s somebody [who] was always there to provoke and to counsel,” said James Shapiro ’77, the Larry Miller Professor of English and Comparative Literature and a longtime colleague of Kroeber’s, in an interview with Spectator. “He was never comfortable with easy answers.”
Kroeber is survived by his wife Jean, sons, Paul and Arthur; daughter, Katharine K. Wiley; four grandchildren; brothers, Clifton and Theodore; and sister, Ursula K. LeGuin. There will be a memorial service at Columbia on Thursday, April 8.
Yosef H. Yerushalmi ’66 GSAS, the Salo Wittmayer Baron Professor Emeritus of Jewish History, Culture and Society, died on December 8, 2009 in Manhattan. He was 77.
Born in the Bronx to Yiddish-speaking immigrants, Yerushalmi earned a bachelor’s from Yeshiva University in 1943 and Ph.D. in history from Columbia. He taught at Rutgers and Harvard before returning to Columbia in 1980, where he directed the Center for Israel and Jewish Studies until his retirement in 2008.
Yerushalmi authored multiple books, most famously Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory, which focused on the tension between the collective stories of Judaism and the verifiable facts of history, a subject to which Yerushalmi devoted much of his academic life. He also wrote on the history of Spanish, Portuguese and Germany Jewry as well as historiography and psychoanalysis. he was in the process of completing a translation and study of Solomon Ibn Verga’s Hebrew chronicle, Shevet Yehudah.
“Yerushalmi did not suffer fools gladly,” wrote Beth Kissileff ’90 in a tribute. “He expected a certain level of knowledge from students, yet had no patience with anyone showing a particular kind of religious bias or parochialism.”
He is survived by his wife, Ophra; son, Ariel ’92; and a grandson.
Lisa Palladino and Jesse Thiessen ’11 Arts