Fresno native was renowned UCLA economist
Feb 22, 2013 (The Fresno Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Armen A. Alchian, a renowned UCLA economist who was Fresno-born and educated, changed the lives of his students, said those who knew him.
Mr. Alchian, 98, a Fresno High School graduate, died Tuesday in Los Angeles.
He was known for making economics interesting and for his clear and concise writing, which included a textbook, "University Economics," he co-authored, said David R. Henderson, who had Mr. Alchian as a professor in 1972.
"It was the most important economics course I took," said Henderson, a research fellow with the Hoover Institution and an economics professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.
Mr. Alchian's global reputation as an economist was evident by the responses Henderson has received since word of Mr. Alchian's death spread, he said.
"I've had a dozen emails from people around the world who said, 'I picked up a copy of his textbook and it changed my life' -- or 'it changed my major,' " he said.
Daniel K. Benjamin, who edited "The Collected Works of Armen A. Alchian," said recently that Mr. Alchian showed "the beauty and power of economics and demonstrated that both could be transmitted in the classroom and through the written word."
Mr. Alchian was raised in Fresno's Armenian community, including a large extended network of family and friends, his relatives said. At Fresno High, he excelled in academics and participated in track and field, graduating in 1932.
"He was brilliant (even) then," said Corky Normart, Mr. Alchian's cousin and a Fresno resident. "He was someone the whole family looked up to."
Mr. Alchian attended Fresno State College before transferring to Stanford University, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1936 and doctorate in the early 1940s. After serving in the Army Air Force, he joined the UCLA economics department in 1946.
About the same time, he also started an 18-year affiliation with RAND Corp., the Santa Monica-based think tank.
A memoriam to Mr. Alchian on the UCLA website noted that he was an avid golf and computer user -- and the first in the economics department to have a personal computer in his office and "an early adopter of such important innovations as email."
The Armen Alchian Chair in Economic Theory at UCLA was named in his honor about the time he retired as a professor in 1986. He was a professor emeritus for 13 years.
He and his wife, Pauline, were married for 73 years.
In an obituary on the UCLA website, Mr. Alchian was quoted in 2009 as saying, "I've enjoyed working on problems in economics so much that it didn't seem like work."
Armen A. Alchian
Born: April 12, 1914
Died: Feb. 19, 2013
Survivors: Wife Pauline, son Allen Alchian, daughter Arline Hoel, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Occupation: Economist, UCLA professor
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