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GSPP Mourns the Passing of Professor Suzanne Scotchmer

From Dean Henry E. Brady:

I am very sorry and very sad to tell you that our colleague, Professor Suzanne Scotchmer, passed away on Thursday, January 30, after a brief illness.

At GSPP, Suzanne championed intellectual rigor and tough-minded thinking about public policy. She also provided us with a model of how to combine economic thinking with public policy analysis. We all learned from her example and her teaching. She helped to build GSPP and to give it an international reputation for excellence and scholarship.

Suzanne's accomplishments are extraordinary. She came from a small fishing village in Alaska, and she made fundamental contributions to three areas of economics: game theory, club theory and urban economics, and intellectual property. In addition, she contributed to policy debates about a wide range of issues regarding intellectual property. She came to the Goldman School of Public Policy in 1986 after a stint from 1981 to 1986 at Harvard University. In 1995 she was also appointed a professor of economics and in 2008 a professor of law at Berkeley.   

Suzanne had the gift of being able to get at the fundamental issues in any area she studied, and she constructed elegant and parsimonious models that shed light on the mechanisms at work in these areas. Her intellect was deep and profound.  

Her book, Innovation and Incentives, is the classic work on this subject which won acclaim from the jurist Richard Posner and the game theorist Jean Tirole. Indeed, one of her singular achievements was to use the techniques of economics to clarify legal thinking and reasoning. At the same time, her work provided guidance for designing better public policies for regulating intellectual property and research and development.

Suzanne had an international reputation for her work. She was a visiting scholar in France, Russia, Israel, Canada, Finland, Italy, Sweden, and other countries.  She advised governments and decision-makers.  

Finally, on a personal note, I will always remember that when I was seriously injured in 1987, she sent me a set of books to read that were fun and funny. I had known Suzanne only briefly when we intersected at Harvard where I was at the time, and she had just moved to Berkeley where I had been a faculty member up until 1984. The books she sent me were hilarious, and even though each laugh hurt given my injury, I really appreciated her sense of what would make me feel better.  Her thoughtfulness at that time still means a lot to me, and I am deeply saddened by her passing.  

We have lost a great and distinguished scholar, and we will miss her extraordinary commitment to intellectual quality and to the mission of our school and our university.  

Our condolences go out to her family and to her long-term friend Steve Maurer. 

Suzanne's family will be holding a private memorial service in Alaska. They have requested that in lieu of flowers, friends may give donations to the American Cancer Society.