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I'm sorry to hear that.

Oh no, I didn't know. Mike was also a great teacher, and he was graduate director when I was doing my PhD. He contributed so much to U of T and to Canadian economics generally.

Me too. Nice post, Frances -- thank you.

A fitting tribute Frances. Thanks.

I'm sorry to hear this Frances. I met Mike Denny a number of times over the years and he was always very approachable.

I got to know Mike a bit when I was on the executive. Very down to earth guy. Thanks for this Frances.

Mike was a great guy who was never afraid to share his opinion or help keep one motivated. This helped me to finish my degree. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Thanks for the comments, and for sharing your memories of Mike.

Now that I'm an academic administrator myself, I've been thinking a lot about the gradual disappearance of academics like Mike - guys who are serious scholars, are prepared to do administrative work, but refuse to get sucked into the world of petty bureaucratic rules. If he thought a rule was stupid, he just didn't comply with it. At one point I saw some disadvantages to that approach; now I'm starting to see more of the advantages.

Sad to read this; thanks for posting, Fran. I knew Mike only through the CEA executive and conferences, but always liked him.

Nice post. Once upon a time I read a lot of Denny's and econometrics articles. Solid stuff (measured by how many times I re-read the article. :-) )

Think I met him once. Wore ill-fitting, worn blue jeans if I recall.

Of all the people who shaped my understanding of economics and being an economist, the one to whom I would most directly trace my lineage as an academic economist is Mike Denny. Plus, he was indeed a great guy. And I have always liked his way of being his own person.

Mike deserves the credit for seeing me to completing my dissertation. I spent hours in Mike’s office, trying to understand how to turn the ideas in my head into research papers. His comments were always concise and focused. What is the question? What do we learn from this regression? Time and again, when I was at risk of getting lost in the details of the data, he would bring the focus back. Years later, I try to perform the same function for some of my undergraduate students. I told one student (now an assistant professor) that my job was to remind him of the forest when he got lost in the trees. Sometimes he claimed he felt he was looking at the leaves. I learned how to supervise students from being supervised by Mike. One of the great things about Mike is that he was very patient with PhD students. He did not ignore but he did not react to the emotional state of a panicky or freaked-out student. He just calmly returned attention to the work each time.

After I graduated, Mike and I continued to meet every now and again at conferences. Mike always offered up interesting reflections on the world of Economics – the job market, students, university administrations and so on – that were short ("economical"), by turns witty or pungent, but always pragmatically hopeful. For many years I have been thinking of him from time to time at my work, studying productivity growth in regulated industries, and at home, as I walk among our gardens looking at the peonies we grow. Mike left a very individual indelible mark on the world and, like many others, I will be thinking about what he wrote and what he said for a long time to come. Smart. And a nice guy.

Frances, thanks for your reflections and for providing another place for us to share ours.

Interesting perspectives on Mike Denny.

As an undergraduate his third year Micro was intensely frustrating. He seemed unable to organize his thoughts or explain the concepts (textbook was Deaton and Muelbauer). A lot of people turned away from economics after that and went on to be lawyers, MBAs etc.

So the moral of the story is someone can be a great colleague and an influential figure in his field (organizationally or in other ways) without being a great teacher.

It's nice to have that perspective on Professor Denny because like many of my generation at U of T, my experience of him was unhappy.

John Munro, the economic historian, has also recently died. He was a great and inspiring teacher, as well as a fantastic scholar, widely respected in his field (monetary and textile history in late medieval low countries and England).

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