The IRP community was saddened to learn of the passing of former IRP Director Eugene “Geno” Smolensky on December 17, 2023. We extend our condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.
Barbara Wolfe, former IRP Director (1994–2000) and the Richard A. Easterlin Professor Emerita of Economics, Public Affairs, and Population Health Sciences at UW–Madison, shared these memories:
“Eugene Smolensky, ‘Geno,’ was a welcoming senior faculty member when I first arrived at UW–Madison and IRP. He has been a great friend ever since, who was very funny in his own special clever and acerbic way. Bob Haveman, Geno, and I—’the odd trio’—traveled to many International Institute of Public Finance meetings together where we presented academic work, spent time with international friends, visited museums, and attended and dissected numerous talks by others. I am overwhelmed with so many funny memories of Geno. I will miss his insight, his breadth of interests and knowledge and his friendship. He was a mensch.”
Tim Smeeding, former IRP Director (2008–2014) and the Lee Rainwater Distinguished Professor of Public Affairs and Economics at UW–Madison, had this to add:
“Eugene (Gene or Geno) Smolensky was a wonderful teacher, a member of my PhD committee, and a long term mentor. He became head of IRP in 1980 and from this position, he mentored and developed many young poverty scholars. Geno was always ready with a laugh and a quick and accurate read of my work, but ultimately he was a serious scholar of immigration, poverty, inequality, and urban economics.”
You can read more about Professor Smolensky’s career and legacy in this remembrance by the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he served as a dean and as a faculty member.