• Tribute to Professor Professor George Trotter

    Dear Colleagues

    Academic colleagues in the discipline of economics and in the wider academic community, as well as several generations of former UKZN students are deeply saddened by the recent death of Professor George Trotter, who passed away in Hillcrest Hospital on 11 October.

    George Jameson Trotter was born in Durban in 1937, but grew up in Pietermaritzburg where he attended Merchiston School and Maritzburg College where he was DUX, matriculating at the age of 16 in 1953. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, followed by double honours degrees in mathematics and economics, the two disciplines that remained at the heart of his academic life. George Trotter then joined the Department of Economics on the Durban campus of the University of Natal in 1959 when economics was located in the Memorial Tower Building before moving to the third floor of the Students’ Union building in 1960. He became a senior lecturer and in 1965 was awarded a Carnegie Commonwealth Travel Grant from the Carnegie Corporation, New York, which took him to Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, where he completed a Master of Arts degree in economics. After returning to South Africa, he was appointed as William Hudson Professor and Head of the Department of Economics in 1966, at the age of 29, at the time making him the youngest full professor in the University.

    George Trotter was a highly talented and inspirational lecturer, teaching mainly across the full gamut of undergraduate and postgraduate microeconomics, although he was also the first person who newly-enrolled economics undergraduates encountered in the classroom, as he traditionally taught the first three weeks of lectures in the first-year curriculum. In the process, he set the teaching bar very high for the colleagues who were to follow him. He served as Head of the Department of Economics for a remarkable 27 years, and it was in this capacity that he left his most enduring legacy, leading what was to become one of the largest academic departments in the University with a unique blend of rigour, professionalism, humour and above all else committed collegiality, as part of which his colleagues became members of a deeply democratic but also highly productive collective. He also carried this spirit of openness and democracy into the Faculties of Arts, within which economics was located initially, and later Commerce, in both of which he served terms as Dean. He later served in the University Executive, as Acting Vice-Principal and as Pro Vice-Principal (Finance and Technical Services) and then up to his formal retirement as University Registrar. His registrarship covered the critical period leading up to and into the establishment of the merged University of KwaZulu- Natal.

    George Trotter’s research interests and publications were firmly within the area of the economics of education, where much of his focus was directed at estimating the economic returns to education, and to the challenges of producing quality education in a developing economy constrained by limited resources. The more recent experiences of South Africa in this regard bear testimony to the visionary nature of this research endeavour.

    Outside of the University sphere, George Trotter served as President of the Economic Society of South Africa in 1976-77. He and his wife Deeann shared an abiding interest in music and the arts. Both were members of the University Choir and George was a long-time member of the Durban Men’s Choir. It was, however, as a teacher and an academic that he will be remembered most fondly, above all for his unwavering commitment to the finest values of academic freedom and open discourse.

    Issued by
    Professor Mabutho Sibanda
    Dean and Head of School Accounting, Economics and Finance

  • Tribute to Professor Philip Black

    The passing of Philip Black in Cape Town at home on 19 June 2015 brought to an end the life of an extraordinary polymath. Philip was not only a doyen of South African economics, but also a highly talented musician, as well as a sportsman of note. Quite apart from his prodigious giftedness across such a vista of human endeavour, Philip will be remembered by an astonishingly wide range of people for his generosity, gentility, open-mindedness and sheer zest for life. His full obituaray "Obituary: Philip Andrew Black: 1947-2015", Dollery BE, 2015 was published in: South African Journal of Economics, v. 83 (3), p. 472-474 (2015) -- issn:0038-2280

  • Tribute to Professor Harry Zarenda

    It is with great sadness that we learnt of the recent death of Professor Harry Zarenda. Harry was well known in the Economics community, and as a committed member of the Economic Society of South Africa. He was a member of the Economics Department (later the School of Economic and Business Science at Wits for approximately 40 Years). During that time he often served at Acting Head of School and in various other official capacities within the Faculty of Commerce.

    I knew Harry first as one of his students, then later on as a colleague at Wits, and most importantly as a friend. Writing this, the words that come to mind repeatedly are that he was quite simply one of the kindest, most decent human beings that I have ever met. I am sure that this sentiment is shared by all those within ESSA who came into contact with him and by the many thousands of students that had the privilege to be taught by him.

    As an Economist he made contributions in various fields but primarily within Development Economics, and Trade and Industrial Policy but his influence extended way beyond the papers he published. One of the most extraordinary things was the way in which everybody turned to Harry for comments on their own work. He was exceptionally generous with his time and his comments and the result was that people from the extreme left to the extreme right (however loosely that might be defined) turned to him for input. He was able to cut through ideological differences and focus on the core merits of the arguments being presented. Behind the scenes he made various contributions to the development of post-apartheid economic policy.

    In the last few years, whilst he was struggling with cancer, I never once heard him complain and he remained generous in spirit and in deed.

    On a personal note, it is incredibly painful to say good-bye to this extraordinary man and as a Society we have lost one of our own. Please join me in celebrating his life and mourning his death.

    He will be missed

    John Luiz
    President: Economic Society of South Africa