Campus News

Hirschel Kasper, Longtime Oberlin Economics Professor, Dies at 89

His remarkable teaching career spanned from 1963 to 2017 and numbered thousands of students.

April 9, 2024

Communications Staff

Hirschel Kasper.
Hirschel Kasper in 1996.
Photo credit: courtesy of Oberlin College Archives

Hirschel Kasper, an emeritus professor of economics who taught at Oberlin for an incredible 54 years, died Thursday, April 4, at Kendal at Oberlin.

Hirschel Kasper.
Kasper in 1963, the year he arrived in Oberlin. (photo courtesy of Oberlin College Archives)

A native of Providence, Rhode Island, Kasper graduated from Boston University and earned an MA and PhD from the University of Minnesota. He taught at Oberlin from 1963 to 2017 and wrote frequently on his specialties in labor economics, economic theory, and public policy. He is said to have taught more than 4,000 Oberlin students in his introductory course alone.

“One of my earliest memories of Hirsch was when I was interviewing for my position at Oberlin in 2010,” recalls Ron Cheung, professor of economics and chair of the department. “His welcoming, open personality was immediately obvious and helped to put a nervous candidate at ease. Over the seven years that I overlapped with Hirsch on the faculty, I had noticed how supportive he was of his junior colleagues. In challenging moments, he always had a word of encouragement that was honed by years of experience.

“Conversely, in happy moments—like an honors student presenting their thesis, or a colleague getting a publication accepted—he was always there to celebrate with a smile and a wry comment. He was a stabilizing force in our department, and it is hard to think of anyone else taking that role for us.”

A gathering in memory of Kasper will take place at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 11, at Oberlin’s Westwood Cemetery. It will be followed at 11 by a celebration at Kendal.

Learn more about the life and career of Kasper and share remembrances here.

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