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News Release

Renowned economist and U of M professor Vern Ruttan dies at age 84

Contacts: Becky Beyers, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, (612) 626-5754
Brian Buhr, department of applied economics, (612) 625-0231

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (08/18/2008) —Internationally respected University of Minnesota economist Vernon Ruttan died today after a short illness at age 84.

Ruttan, a retired Regents Professor in the applied economics and economics departments, was widely known for his work in economic development, agricultural and resource economics, and science and technology policy. He officially retired from the university in 2000 but continued his research and writing, maintaining an office at the university until just before his death.

All who knew Vernon personally or professionally were touched by his incisive insights, his tenor chuckle and his true interest in others, said Brian Buhr, head of the applied economics department. “He would often ask an assistant professor to lunch to ask 'what do you think about what's happening in your area?', continuing the inquiry because he was truly interested in learning from what a junior faculty member might be observing from a fresh perspective. We will miss him deeply as a friend, a scholar, a colleague and a true gentleman.”

Ruttan’s career at the university stretches back to 1965, when he became head of the applied economics department after teaching at Purdue and the University of California-Berkeley. He also worked with the President's Council of Economic Advisors and the Rockefeller Foundation's International Rice Research Institute.

He was named a Regents Professor, the university’s highest faculty honor, in 1986 and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, among many associations. His nonacademic work included leadership roles in the Agency for International Development and other national groups and the Minnesota Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Tags: College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

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