UC Berkeley economics professor emeritus Lloyd Ulman dies at 94

Clair Brown/Courtesy

UC Berkeley emeritus professor of economics Lloyd Ulman died of complications after a heart attack Sept. 17. He was 94.

A highly influential labor research scholar, Ulman was interested in trade union development. His research focused on how a country’s economic environment shapes the structure and development of labor unions. Ulman’s notable achievements include directing the campus’s Institute of Industrial Relations and serving as a senior economist on President John F. Kennedy’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Robert Flanagan, a professor of economics at Stanford University and Ulman’s former student, who collaborated on two books with him, said in an email that Ulman’s service on Kennedy’s council stimulated new interest in the interactions between union pay setting and government macroeconomic policies.

“Lloyd will be remembered by his many students as a dedicated teacher, insightful advisor, and loyal friend and supporter,” Flanagan said in an email. He worked on his graduate dissertation under Ulman at UC Berkeley.

Lassie Ulman, who was married to Ulman for 66 years, said her husband enjoyed being with people, which she said is unusual for a scholar.

“He was very sociable — good sense of humor, and he had a first-rate mind,” she said. “Thoughts of him will always be my best thoughts.”

She met her husband in Boston, where he completed his graduate studies after serving in the military. She remembered that they went to see a “magnificent movie” on their first date, and she fell in love with him because of his smile.

Ulman acquired his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin, respectively, before obtaining his doctorate from Harvard University. He worked at the University of Minnesota before serving as a UC Berkeley faculty member from 1958 to 1990.

Clair Brown, a campus economics professor and Ulman’s colleague and friend of 40 years, said Ulman was a remarkable mentor who was supportive of his students’ work even when he disagreed with their approach.

“He helped his students do their very best,” Brown said.

Ramon Castellblanch, an associate professor of health and social sciences at San Francisco State University who met Ulman when he was a UC Berkeley undergraduate, said Ulman believed academic work provided a platform for institutional change.

“He walked the walk; he didn’t just talk the talk,” Castellblanch said.

According to Castellblanch, Ulman always made insightful yet witty observations.

“He was full of bon mots; you could get a dozen of them in one lunch,” Castellblanch said. “It was always like an intellectual sort of shower to be in his presence.”

Ulman is survived by his wife. His family held a private memorial service for him Monday. A campus memorial service will be scheduled later this year.

Contact Suhauna Hussain at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @suhaunah.