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Schwartz honored with Festschrift

Eli Schwartz's nearly four decades of teaching and research at Lehigh were celebrated on Nov. 13.

Eli Schwartz, an “intelligent and original eccentric” who taught business at Lehigh for almost 40 years, was honored Thursday evening for a lifetime of academic and professional contributions to the university and the field of economics.

Friends and colleagues of Schwartz celebrated his career with a Festschrift, a special event that literally translates as “a celebration of writing.” As part of the festivities, he was given a book of essays titled Variations in Economic Analysis that includes contributions from some of the most regarded minds in economics.

It’s a recognition that few in academia are ever presented with.

“What an amazing career,” said Robert Thornton, the Charles William MacFarlane Professor in economics and co-editor of the book. “His research is quite impressive and includes over 50 articles in such prestigious journals as The American Economic Review, The Journal of Finance and the National Tax Journal.”

“Eli, you’d have no problem getting tenure today,” he joked.

Schwartz said how honored he was before be reflected on a lifetime of service to Lehigh.

“I think I was a little bit of a difficulty for a succession of deans,” Schwartz said. “I just spoke with [former] Dean Barsness and I said, ‘You have to be thankful to me—I probably made your life interesting.’”

The book of essays includes contributions by Thornton and fellow Lehigh University colleagues Rich Aronson, the director of the Martindale Center for the Study of Private Enterprise, and Harriet Parmet, professor emeritus. The three served as co-editors of the Festschrift.

Nicholas Balabkins, professors emeritus and long-time colleague of Schwartz at the College of Business and Economics, authored an essay as well.

The list of contributors also includes such noteworthy names as Nobel Prize Laureates Robert Solow and Harry Markowitz; John Hilley, an economic advisor to President Clinton; Murray Weidenbaum, chairman of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors; and the former editor of the American Economic Review, George Borts.

“The festschrift expresses the highest traditions of academic excellence and fellowship, and I regret to say that such events these days are far too rare. But it will be a fine moment for Lehigh,” says Wight Martindale ‘60, executive-in-residence who penned a tribute to Schwartz in a recent issue of The Lehigh Patriot.

During his tenure at Lehigh, which lasted from 1954-1991, Schwartz taught a range of business classes and held the Charles W. MacFarlane Professorship—the chair now held by Thornton. He served as chair of the economics department for six years and authored over 50 articles and published seven books during his career.

--Tom Yencho

Posted on Friday, November 14, 2008

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