Skip to main content
Christian Werner
In Memoriam

Christian Werner

Professor of Geography and Economics

UC Irvine

Christian Werner, emeritus professor of geography and of economics, and past Dean of the School of Social Sciences, died March 10, 2016. He was 81.

Werner was born in Germany in 1935, living as a child under the Nazi regime. Perhaps that experience made him so open minded and so caring about others. He spoke with a pronounced German accent, but if asked, he would identify as Prussian, not as German. He attended the Free University of Berlin, earning the U.S. equivalent of a master's degree in mathematics and geography in 1960, and philosophy in 1961---all three with high honors. He worked on his thesis at the Department of Geography at Northwestern University and completed his doctorate at The Free University of Berlin. He arrived at UCI in 1968, following five years on the faculty at Northwestern University. Werner taught courses on mathematical social science methods, statistical analysis in geography, transportation theory and analysis, and physical geography. His research, published widely in academic journals of geography from 1970-90, was supported primarily by the Volkswagen Foundation, National Science Foundation and Athens Technological Institute in Greece.

Werner was promoted to full professor in 1972 and the following year, he was appointed associate dean in the School of Social Sciences. In 1974, he was named acting dean, a role he was appointed to in full the following year. He thus served as the fourth dean of the UCI School of Social Sciences, following a rather tumultuous period in the School's history, bringing seriousness and a dedication to scholarship to the School. He was remarkable for his honesty, dedication to the School, and wisdom.

"Christian Werner was a very smart man, with an unusually inquisitive mind, whose commitment to the academic enterprise was complete," said William R. Schonfeld, Dean of Social Sciences 1982-2002, "He had absolute integrity...He was a model university citizen and leader. Christian always told you what he thought, and his ideas were systematically demanding and driven by a sense of collective ambition." A conversation with Werner involved being challenged, on both logical and factual grounds, for whatever was said, with Christian's partner in the conversation invariably more skeptical, and wiser, as a result.

In 1990, he received the UCI Alumni Association Distinguished University Service Award. In 1993, a massive wildfire in Laguna Canyon and Laguna Beach destroyed his house, but that did not faze him, and he continued to serve the University. After retirement in 1994, Werner remained an active member of the economics faculty and campus administration through committee work until 2007. Among other roles, he was an active member of the university-wide Academic Senate task force on UC Merced, which generated the plans for UC's tenth campus.

He loved nature, hiking, animals and in general had a sincere appreciation for the beauty of this world.

He is survived by his longtime partner, Kathy Alberti, a retired staff member in the School of Social Sciences; sister Dorothea; and brothers Reinhard, Gert and Michael.

Ami Glazer
Professor of Economics