Univ. suffers loss of beloved professor

By Sam Krassenstein

Contributing Writer

Dr. Michael W. Moohr, an Associate Professor of Economics, passed away on Jan. 31 at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville at age 68.

Moohr was an integral part of the University community for 35 years and was known for his charismatic personality and endless dedication to his students as a mentor and teacher.

While at the University, he devoted nearly all his time to teaching and helping his students. “Michael was especially devoted to his students, counseling them on life lessons and always offering career advice,” said Nina Banks, associate professor of economics.

Moohr earned his Bachelor of Science degree in economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champain and his Ph.D at Kings College in Cambridge. Moohr researched the sugar industry and its impact on the slave trade in the Caribbean.

Professor Emeritus Peter Kresl hired Moohr in January 1975 to join the economics department, which consisted of only three members at the time.

Their shared interests in German automobiles, jazz music and economic thought allowed them not only to become colleagues, but also best friends for the next 35 years.

“We hired Michael to teach American and European economic history,” Kresl said. “We both deplored how the history of economic thought was being forgotten in economics education.”

Moohr’s addition to the University marked the beginning of the building of the largest department in the College of Arts and Sciences, while preserving the fundamental balance between political economy and neoclassical economic theory.

During his tenure at the University, the department grew from five faculty members, as he was hired alongside professor Jean Shackelford, to its current size of 17 faculty members.

Since the fall semester of 1997, Moohr has had 1,820 students in his classes in addition to all the students he has taught in the 22 years prior.

“He was immensely interesting in class and was the one professor who was genuinely interested in getting to know and making time for each of his students,” Sam Stulberg ’12 said.

Typically in the economics department, a faculty member will average 25 advisees, but Moohr had 150, reflecting his immense popularity among students.

Moohr’s classes were consistently among the first to fill up on campus, so he often taught an extra to ensure that he could help and teach as many students as possible.

Moohr had a profound effect on students on and off campus. He always shared his experiences of growing up on the south side of Chicago where he witnessed the devastating impact of blocked opportunities on the lives of his African-American friends.

As a master lecturer and a fierce proponent of affirmative action, Moohr was the keynote speaker at the New Frontiers of Knowledge mentoring project in Chicago where he spoke to high school students of the aspirations that parents have for their children.

“By the end of his talk, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room, and a new group of students had come to love him,” Banks said.

At the University he often used his extensive network of previous students and friends to help his promising students find jobs in the finance sector regardless of race or gender.

He made sure that all his students had an equal opportunity to a successful career and future such as his alumni from 35 years ago. They made their way across the country this weekend and have sent in numerous tributes to pay their respects to a man who has had a tremendous impact on countless students’ lives at the University.

Former students from as far back as the start of his tenure in 1975 recalled his passion in teaching and credited Moohr as an inspiration being, as one former student from the graduating class of 1979 put it, “the one special professor that made a huge impact on the direction of their lives.”

Moohr loved the University and greatly admired John F. Zeller III, who passed away in Dec. 8, 2010, for his exceptional dedication and loyalty to the University.

Moohr had similar devotion to the institution, serving as the chair of the economics department for five years and often spending what little free time he had walking around campus with his dog, Christopher, striking up conversations in every office he visited and with as many people as he came across around campus.

Outside of the economics department, Moohr was no stranger on campus. He advised numerous student organizations including the Pi Beta Phi sorority, the Real Estate Club and the Investment Club.

As a faculty member, Moohr represented academic interests of the University in trustee meetings always ensuring that budget decisions did not adversely affect the students’ education.

Moohr’s dedication to his many students and the University as well as the profound effect he has had on all that he has touched over his lifetime will not soon be forgotten.

Although he has passed away, his legacy as an inspirational professor, colleague and friend will always live on in our memories.

(Visited 777 times, 1 visits today)