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In Memoriam: November 2014

Published: November 3, 2014

J. Richard “Dick” Powell, an emeritus Professor of Economics, passed away on Sept. 19, six days after his 100th birthday. Powell joined the faculty at CSULB in 1954 as the second member of the economics faculty. He retired in 1984 and taught for an additional five years as a member of the Faculty on Early Retirement program. Powell was highly respected among his colleagues and a perennial favorite among his students.

Powell graduated in 1938 from what was then called Santa Barbara State College, now known as the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a major in history and a minor in mathematics. He received his masters in 1939 and doctorate in 1952, both in economics at UCLA.

Powell’s studies were interrupted by World War II. From 1941-45 he served as an engineering officer and damage control officer on four ships operating in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He was aboard the destroyer Tucker in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941.

Powell’s academic career began at the University of Texas in 1949 followed by four years as an assistant professor of economics at UCLA from 1950-54. His next stop was CSULB, where at one time or another during his 30-year tenure he taught most of the economic course offerings—a good indicator of his versatility. On four separate occasions, he served as chair of the economics department and he chaired and served on all the major departmental committees as well as numerous committees at the school and university level.

“Dick always thought teaching was very important,” said Joe Magaddino, the long-time chair of economics, commented. “One thing that impressed me was that toward the end of his career, he took calculus classes at a junior college to enable him to more effectively teach the managerial economics course. Such an effort demonstrated his commitment to students, faculty and the program in economics.”

While Powell’s first love was teaching, he also was a scholar and an effective administrator and leader. His dissertation, “The Mexican Petroleum Industry, 1938-1950” was published by the University of California Press in 1956 and subsequently translated to Spanish. Although not uncritical of Pemex operations, it was more sympathetic to Mexican expropriation of the Petroleum industry than most treatments at the time. He was the author of additional papers on aspects of the labor force within the Mexican Petroleum industry.

Powell is survived by his son, Larry, a sister Evelyn Hamilton, and Marjorie’s two daughters, Jolene Jacobs and Robin Jacobs.

Additional Passings:

Bruce P. Ryan, Aug. 6, emeriti faculty, communicative disorders

Steven M. Buck, April 9, emeriti faculty, speech communications

Joe R. Baca, June 22, retired staff, facilities management

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