Professor of Business Emeritus
“Life is complicated!” “Life is complex!” Frequently, the late Professor Michael (“Mike”) Conant would conclude a conversation with either or both of the above observations whether the subject was national economic policy or mundane departmental matters. Indeed, Mike’s career at Berkeley was devoted to both simplifying for students the complications inherent in applying law to business activity and unraveling for legal scholars the complexities embedded in interpreting the provisions of the United States Constitution as they related to a modern global market economy.
Born Misha Cohen in Peoria, Illinois on August 9, 1924, Mike passed away peacefully at his home in Kensington, CA on December 7, 2012. After serving in the United States Army during WWII, he attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics. From there he attended the University of Chicago, where he earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Economics. Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman was one of his Ph.D. examiners. At the suggestion of his future wife, Helene Mandel, Professor Conant stayed on to earn a Doctorate of Law (JD). He remained a proud alumnus of the University of Chicago throughout his life.
After practicing anti-trust law for several years in Chicago, Mike joined the Berkeley faculty in 1954 as a member of the School of Business Administration (now the Haas School of Business). He was known for his dedication as a teacher and his expertise in antitrust economics, law, and economic regulation. Professor Conant was esteemed by his colleagues for his meticulous scholarship, intellectual integrity, and willingness to challenge academic conventional wisdom. Though retired in 1991, Professor Conant continued his scholarly endeavors including the publication of numerous journal articles and several highly respected books. His book, The Constitution and Economic Regulation: Objective Theory and Critical Commentary, published in 2008, was well regarded by scholars in the field.
Professor Conant served on numerous Academic Senate committees including Privilege and Tenure, Status of Women and Ethnic Minorities, Assembly, Rules and Jurisdiction, and Admissions, Enrollment, and Preparatory Education.
Mike was predeceased by Helene, his wife of 62 years of marriage. Together they enjoyed a life filled with art, particularly Asian, classical music, capacious intellectual interests, and canine companionship. He is survived by a sister and extended family.
Edwin M. Epstein