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Julius Margolis


Julius Margolis

Professor of Economics

UC Irvine

1920 - 2012


Julius Margolis, professor emeritus of economics at UC Irvine, died Friday, March 16, 2012 at the age of 91.


Alternately known as Julie, Julius or Jules, depending on the era, Margolis was a founding figure in the economics of the public sector, a person of boundless energy in building UCI, and a Renaissance man. He was recruited by UCI in 1976, having previously been a professor at the University of Chicago, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and at the University of Pennsylvania.


When he came to UCI, the economics program had only three members. He worked tirelessly at recruiting. Taking advantage of the wide regard in which he was held, he appointed an oversight committee of outside economists (including two Nobel Prize winners) to evaluate all appointments. Margolis was effectively the founder of economics on campus.


But Margolis did not limit himself to his Department. He helped establish University Hills---as Chair of the system wide Council on Faculty Welfare, he persuaded the Office of the President to approve the project. Margolis also helped establish UCI’s Center for Global Peace & Conflict Studies, which hosts an annual lecture series in his name and will dedicate a seminar room in his honor. Caring about the intellectual atmosphere on campus, he persuaded the Administration to include a large bookstore in the newly built student center.


Margolis earned an undergraduate degree at City College of New York in 1941 and completed a doctorate at Harvard University in 1949. He was active in the National Bureau of Economic Research and on the Federal Reserve System’s board of governors and was a consultant to agencies ranging from the National Parks Service to the RAND Corp. and the Kennedy administration.


He was a leader in advancing the fields of policy analysis. With funding from the Social Science Research Council, he helped promote rational choice theory and microeconomic modeling in the study of politics. He was exceptionally prescient in setting agendas, particularly for the application of economic analysis to policy, and at stimulating others with his vision. He contributed to the economic approach to politics, which compares politicians to economic producers and citizen-voters to consumers.


After retiring in 1988, Margolis headed in a new direction: exploring his artistic side through sculpture and painting. Margolis was also an avid table tennis player, serving on the executive board of the National Seniors Table Tennis Tournament Association.


As for his various names? He was Julie to anyone who knew him as a friend before 1970. He was Julius formally. And after he became a painter, he asked to be known as Jules.


Margolis is survived by his wife of seventy years, Doris Margolis; his son, Carl Margolis; his daughter, Jane Margolis; his son-in-law, Mark Peterson; and his granddaughter, Sophie Margolis-Peterson.


David Brownstone                                                            Amihai Glazer

Professor of Economics                                                  Professor of Economics