We remember colleague and friend Katherine Terrell

December 31, 2009

Updated January 5, 2010

A memorial fund has been established in Kathy's honor. Learn more about the fund and how to make a contribution here.

Kathy's Business School colleagues have set up a permanant web page to which people can post their memories, stories, and thoughts about Kathy. Visit the site:



Katherine Terrell, professor of business economics and public policy at the University of Michigan, died from respiratory complications Dec. 29 in the Dominican Republic. She was 59.

Terrell, who taught at both the Ford School and the Ross School of Business, was an expert on the impact of government policies and the effect of globalization on wages, employment, income inequality and firm performance in emerging market economies. Her research and teaching focused on countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America, where she grew up.

She directed the international business Ph.D. program at the Ross School and created the International Economic Development Program at the Ford School---a program "of which we are most proud, in which students travel each spring to a different developing country to contribute by studying salient policy issues," said Alan Deardorff, associate dean at the Ford School.

"As Kathy's friend, I am devastated by her loss and will miss her terribly," he said. "We shared a love of international travel, and on more than one occasion I had the pleasure of spending time with her abroad. She especially cared about people in the poorer parts of the world, whom she did her best to help with her research."

"The university and academic communities have lost a generous and kind colleague," said Ford School dean Susan M. Collins. "Kathy was an extremely influential and respected scholar as well as a dedicated mentor of graduate students, many of whom went on to collaborate professionally with her over the years."

Terrell's friend and colleague Marina Whitman, also a professor at the Ross School and Ford School, says she had long admired Terrell's commitment to her work and frequent travels abroad, which often included accompanying Ford School students on their annual trips to developing countries.

"Kathy was not only a valued colleague and a dear friend, but also a person of remarkable courage," Whitman said. "She carried a full teaching load and was extremely active in research and organizing conferences, despite health problems that most of us would have found totally daunting."

Masters of Public Policy student Elizabeth Talbert says that Terrell was a great mentor and a good friend.

"I would stop by her office to ask a question and end up talking for half an hour," she said. "She was always willing to talk about anything. She was both a demanding professor and a supportive and caring friend, and I am grateful for her brief, important presence in my life."

Terrell was married to Jan Svejnar, who also teaches at the Ford School and the Ross School and who directs the International Policy Center. The two collaborated on several academic journal articles, books and other research. They are the parents of two grown children, Daniel and Laura, both U-M graduates.

In addition to her research, Terrell consulted with many international organizations, including the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. She was also a research fellow at the IZA (Institute for the Study of Labor) in Germany, a visiting researcher at the Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education at Charles University in Prague, and previously, a research associate at the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London.

Terrell joined the U-M's Ross School faculty in 1996 and the Ford School in 2001. She was an active faculty affiliate of the U-M's Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the Center for Russian and East European Studies. Prior to coming to U-M, she taught at the University of Pittsburgh and Cornell University, where she received her Ph.D. in 1984.