See below for information regarding the untimely death of Bob Prasch.
From: Liebowitz, Ronald D.
Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 4:58 PM
To: All Faculty; All Staff; students
Subject: To the Middlebury College Community
Dear members of the Middlebury College community,
The College community suffered a devastating loss yesterday with the news that Robert E. Prasch III, professor of economics at Middlebury College, died suddenly in his sleep. He was 56 years of age.
Bob’s outgoing personality was legendary, and he was greatly admired by his students, his faculty colleagues, and by anyone else who knew his acumen for economics, politics, history, and other subjects.
He is survived by his wife, Falguni A. Sheth, an associate professor of philosophy and political theory at Hampshire College.
When Peter H. Matthews, the Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics and department chair, learned the sad news Tuesday morning, he said: “Students loved him, his memorable stories, his incredible command of American economic history, his engaging classroom atmosphere, and his famous office hours at Wilson Café in the library, where he would interact with as many students who wanted to speak with him, for as long as they needed to do so. And in turn he loved them.”
At Middlebury, Bob taught courses in American Economic History, History of Economic Thought, Monetary Theory and Policy, and Macroeconomic Theory. He arrived in 2000 as a visiting assistant professor, was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2003, and promoted to full professor in 2009. Before joining the faculty at Middlebury he had previous teaching experience at San Francisco State University, University at Maine at Orono (where he earned tenure), and Vassar College. Among his many other professional accomplishments, Bob was past president of the Association for Evolutionary Economics.
In recent years, Bob served on Faculty Council, the ad hoc Committee on Faculty Compensation, the ad hoc Committee on Grade Inflation, and the Independent Scholar Committee, where he stayed in close contact with faculty from other departments and with Middlebury students and staff.
He was a co-organizer of the first International Global Studies Conference at Middlebury in 2014 under the aegis of the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs, and was working with faculty colleagues across the curriculum on a volume about international youth unemployment, which was the topic of the first IGS conference.
Bob also was the faculty affiliate for the Alpine skiing team for the past 10 years, and he served two terms on the Athletic Policy Committee, including a term as chair. Erin Quinn ’86, director of athletics, said, “Bob volunteered numerous hours on behalf of our student-athletes and coaches. He was selfless, enthusiastic, and committed. He was a valued and trusted colleague, willing to offer advice about any academic issue and was a strong advocate for our students.”
Before attending college, Bob served three years in the U.S. Army on active duty, where he was recognized for being the best shot in his class. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a bachelor’s degree in economics and history; from the University of Denver with a master’s degree in economics; and from University of California at Berkeley with a Ph.D. in economics.
He wrote the book “How Markets Work: Supply, Demand and the ‘Real World’” (Edward Elgar Publishing: 2008). He co-edited a volume about the American economist Thorstein Veblen in 2007, and an earlier volume titled “Race, Liberalism, and Economics” with his wife, Falguni Sheth, and his faculty colleague, Professor David Colander, in 2004.
At the time of his passing Bob was completing two book manuscripts. The working titles are “A Wage of Her Own: The Rise and Fall of Progressive Era Minimum Wage Legislation for Women: 1913-1923” and “The Political Economy of Empire.”
During his career he also published over 80 book chapters, reviews, and articles in scholarly journals such as “Journal of Economic Issues.” He published critiques of contemporary economic policy on Huffington Post and other websites. After the recession of 2008 Bob was sought after to give incisive lectures like “Why the Financial Markets May Not Be Self-Stabilizing.”
The tragic loss of Bob Prasch will leave a gulf in the economics department. “He was the best lunch or dinner companion an economist could hope for,” Peter Matthews said. “He was also the best raconteur most of us have ever known. Bob was a generous mentor to both junior and senior colleagues. The man was an intellectual resource to us all.”
Condolences can be sent to 544 Bay Road, Amherst, MA 01002. Donations in lieu of flowers may be made in his name to organizations that will be announced later. I will send out details about funeral arrangements as soon as they become available.