Dr. Jerry Ellig, research professor at the Trachtenberg School’s Regulatory Studies Center, passed away suddenly on Wednesday of last week. Jerry was a wonderful colleague, brilliant scholar, generous mentor, and dear friend. His friendly and upbeat personality endeared him to all who were fortunate to meet him.
As a PhD economist and an “evidence-based policy” expert long before it was a buzz phrase, Jerry’s strength was in his ability to apply economic concepts, theories, and empirical analyses in ways that could lead to tangible improvements in public policy. He authored over 70 journal articles, books, and book chapters in economics, law, public policy, public administration, and political science and regularly testified before Congress, especially on the role of economic analysis in regulatory decision-making. Further, Jerry was a wonderful mentor, and many of his peer-reviewed publications were with graduate students and more junior colleagues.
Jerry was also a great communicator, able to take his academic work and translate it for different audiences, including through seminars, op-eds, short presentations, and classroom teaching. Perhaps for this reason, Jerry had several stints in government agencies, including serving as chief economist at the Federal Communications Commission and acting director of the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission, where he was able to bring his academic toolkit to solve pressing policy problems.
Most importantly, Jerry was genuinely kind, humble, and funny. He seemed to think less of his own stature than supporting the needs of others, which is part of what made him such an amazing colleague. The Trachtenberg School’s thoughts and prayers are with his family at this terribly difficult time. While we expect to share further details on ways to honor his legacy, we hope you will join us as we reflect on the positive difference he made in the lives of so many.