Margolis Will be Missed

Julius Margolis, professor emeritus of economics at UC Irvine, passed away from kidney failure on Friday, March 16. The renowned economist and respected faculty member was 91.


Margolis is remembered most for shaping the economics programs at UCI, his creation of the Center for Global Peace and Conflict Studies and for his planning of University Hills, the academic housing community that offers affordable living spaces to eligible full-time UCI employees.


Aside from his development of crucial programs and homes that are still in use today, Margolis was also a passionate sculptor and painter. After retiring in 1988, he focused primarily on pursuing his love of art.


“Painting allows me to express my sense of the [past and present] political, social and psychological turmoil I feel in human society, through the creation of shape and color imagery,” wrote Margolis on his personal website displaying his artful creations.


This New York native earned an undergraduate degree at City College of New York in 1941 and later went on to complete a doctorate at Harvard University in 1949.


Once his schooling came to an end, he taught as a professor at University of Chicago, Stanford University, UC Berkeley and University of Pennsylvania until he was recruited by UCI in 1976 to help build the new campus’ academic prominence in the social sciences.


Upon coming to UCI, Margolis helped bring Jack Johnston to campus, who was one of the leading econometricians in the world and also held the chair in econometrics at the University of Manchester in England.


Margolis’ focus on UCI’s achievements and work in economics helped attract first-rate professors and researchers to the fairly young school at the time.


Additionally, Margolis helped create UCI’s Center for Global Peace and Conflict Studies, which helps promote student, public and scholarly understanding of international peace and conflict.


The center also hosts an annual lecture series in Margolis’s name, where distinguished political and policy-making leaders speak on international issues. Additionally, the Center also plans to dedicate a seminar room in honor of Margolis.


At the time when the Center for Global Peace and Conflict Studies was created, UCI was not entirely focused on international studies, but Margolis saw the need to bring these subjects to the attention of the campus.


He recognized the importance of economics in this study, but also realized that he needed to bring together a wide range of people from different subject areas to address various global issues.


Aside from fostering resolution of international conflicts, Margolis also helped advance the fields of policy analysis and modern public policy education.


He was an advocate of rational choice theory and microeconomic modeling in the study of politics, and helped promote these studies with funding from the Social Science Research Council.


Rational choice theory is an economic principle that assumes people always make logical and prudent decisions that offer them with the greatest benefit and self- interest.


This is a mainstream economic assumption and theory, thanks to the work and contributions of Margolis.


Margolis was regarded as a Renaissance man among his colleagues — a man who put his knowledge to great use to develop  different facets of economics, international peace and conflict-resolution, community planning and art.


“What I remember most is Julie’s humanity, his remarkable sensitivity to children, and his care for [his wife] Doris as her Parkinson’s took hold,” said Kirsten Renwick Monroe, professor of political science and director of the UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality in a series of comments remembering Margolis on the Global Peace and Conflict Studies website.


“Despite all his accomplishments, Julie always remained down to earth, an egalitarian who respected and treated them equally.”


Margolis is survived by his wife of 70 years, his daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter, son and daughter-in-law.


The family asks that, instead of flowers, donations in his name be made to the Center for Global Peace and Conflict Studies.