GSB prof Gerald Meier dies at 88

July 7, 2011, 2:02 a.m.

Graduate School of Business (GSB) professor emeritus Gerald Meier J.D. ’66, an early expert in development economics and advocate for attention to developing countries, died June 21 from complications related to a malignant brain tumor. He was 88.

Meier, who taught at the GSB from 1962 to 2005, co-authored “Leading Issues in Economic Development,” one of the first books about economic development in America and introduced Stanford’s first course on the economics of less-developed countries, after then-GSB dean Ernie Arbuckle ’33 MBA ‘36 recruited him to strengthen the program.

GSB prof Gerald Meier dies at 88
Gerald Meier teaching earlier in his career. Meier, professor emeritus at the Graduate School of Business, died June 21 at his Stanford home at the age of 88 (Courtesy of Andrew Meier).

Through teaching undergraduates as well as students in the GSB and Stanford Law School, Meier became a prominent professor and mentor to young people. From checking in with former students to hosting reggae parties at his home, Meier connected with his students on a unique level.

“The main thing is…how much he loved students,” said his son Andrew Meier. “He taught generations of Stanford students and he really enjoyed both his undergraduate and graduates. I don’t know how many GSB professors taught undergrads, but one thing he loved doing was his sophomore seminar.”

Meier wrote 34 books and over 50 articles in scholarly journals. He often spoke overseas, presenting to leaders of less-developed countries and participating in global conventions. He also served as a consultant to the World Bank.

“A prolific writer, Jerry was also a creative teacher who encouraged me to spread my wings in the classroom and bring globalization to life for GSB students,” said former GSB professor Peter Henry, in a statement Andrew Meier provided to The Daily. “I am sorry to see him go, but his legacy of intellectual curiosity, kindness and good humor will stay with me always.”

Meier, who was also a former Rhodes Scholar, received his B.A. from Reed College, a B. Litt. from Oxford University and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1953. Before joining the Stanford community, Meier taught at Harvard, Oxford, Williams College, Yale University, the University of West Indies, the University of Sussex and Wesleyan University, where he introduced the first university-level course in development economics.

“Not many business schools are concerned with poverty and the reduction of poverty,” Meier said during the GSB’s 75th anniversary celebration. “Stanford, I’d say, is one of the few.”

“Jerry will be missed by a huge number of his admirers like me,” said Harvard economics professor Amartya Sen, in the statement Andrew Meier provided to The Daily.

Raised on the West Coast, near Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, Meier developed a love for the outdoors from an early age. He enjoyed biking, swimming, being near the beach, visiting the track shop and working out at the gym, where he knew all of the football coaches by their first names.

A father of four sons — David, Daniel, Jeremy and Andrew — and husband of 57 years to Gretl Slote, Meier made his family, which saw his passion firsthand and enjoyed hiking and spending family summers abroad with him, first.

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