The Forum | General Education

In Memoriam: Henry G. Manne

January 21, 2015

Over the past weekend, America lost a pioneering scholar and incisive social commentator with the Saturday morning passing of Henry G. Manne, dean emeritus of George Mason University School of Law and founder of the Law & Economics Center.

That Dean Manne was well-loved by many in academe is evident in the words that his colleagues, students, friends, and followers have offered in the past few days. Warm and patient with students, but passionate and dedicated to his work, his scholarship influenced a whole generation of economists and legal scholars. In fact, he was largely responsible for the success of “law and economics” as a field of study. Economist David Henderson recalls that in 1971, Manne started the Economics Institute for Law Professors, which expanded in the years since and has led today to a much greater understanding of economic analysis among legal scholars.   

While much of Dean Manne’s work was focused on corporate governance, he also had many insights on the governance of institutions of higher education and was working on a book on the history of for-profit education when he passed. His understanding of incentives and economic decision-making brought a fresh approach to the discussion of university governance and his insights are still relevant today—a recent paper, outlined here, diagnoses the shift from trustees as consumers of higher education to students as consumers and discusses the impact this shift has had on university governance. And for those interested in his public commentary, the Wall Street Journal has collected excerpts of his many columns here.

Dean Manne, your intellect and your passion for economics will be sorely missed. You leave behind a legacy of thoughtful scholarship, to be carried on by the great many thinkers you taught and influenced, and those that they, in turn, will teach. Rest in peace.   


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