Obituary: Peter Kennedy – May 18, 1943 – Aug. 30, 2010

September 8, 2010

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Retired SFU economist Peter Kennedy passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on August 30.

An accomplished scholar who taught at SFU for 40 years and retired in 2008, Kennedy will be best remembered as a passionate teacher.

In 1987 he received a 3M National Teaching Fellowship for teaching excellence at the university level, one of only a few SFU professors to have received this prestigious award. He was also an inaugural recipient of the SFU Excellence in Teaching Award in 1983.

Kennedy’s commitment to excellence in teaching led him to help initiate the development of what eventually became known as the Learning and Instructional Development Centre (LIDC). He also supervised many graduate students.

As well, he played a key role in the evolution of the department of economics. He served as undergraduate program chair before taking on positions as associate chair and finally departmental chair from 1978-79.

Born in Toronto and raised in nearby Port Credit, ON, Kennedy obtained a BA from Queen's in 1965 and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1968.

While he published many academic articles in peer-reviewed journals, he is best known for writing A Guide to Econometrics, which in his own words “has become a classic as a comprehensive guide to some incredibly technical stuff”. The book established his reputation internationally and played a prominent role in generating a number of visiting professorships.

Kennedy was editor or associate editor of three journals, including a 20-year association with the Journal of Economic Education.

A ceremony celebrating Kennedy's life will take place on Friday September 17th, 10:30am at the Diamond Alumni Centre, Burnaby campus.


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Ben Heijdra (PhD SFU 1984)

It came as a great shock to hear from John Chant that my former teacher Peter Kennedy passed away suddenly on August 30th, 2010. I was a PhD student at SFU from 1980-84 and took both Peter's econometrics classes. I remember Peter as one of the best teachers I have ever known. Peter also served on my PhD committee. We bumped into each other sporadically at various places on the globe. I recall one such encounter in Melbourne (in 1991 or 1991). More recently in the fall of 2006 Peter visited my current place of employ, the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He was his ususla enthusiastic self and made a very fit impression on me and my colleagues. Peter the man will be sorely missed. But his work will live on through his publications and all the students he influences over all these years. I count myself lucky to be one of those students.

John Cuddington

I learned, with great sorrow, that my friend and former teacher Peter Kennedy has passed away in late August. Peter's zeal and love of life was a model for us all.

Jade Chin

truly saddened by Prof. Kennedy's sudden departure... RIP :(

Bob Reed

I first met Peter about three years ago during one of his annual pilgrammages to the University of Canterbury. He was a former Erskine Fellow at UC and returned every year to vacation at a nearby summer home. He would then make periodic drop-ins to the dept. He was a great friend to me. He had a wonderful spirit of intellectual tenacity combined with a generosity of personality. It made for many hours of good conversation! His death hit me quite hard. I know I join many others in saying I miss him greatly.

Philip Meguire

The first edition of Peter's text acquired an immediate reputation at the University of Chicago as a basic reference for applied econometrics for your workaday student writing an empirical thesis. That's how I first encountered his name. Peter was a product of the strong Univ. of Wisconsin tradition in econometrics and statistical theory, a program headed in his day by Arthur Goldberger. This tradition was less beholden to tradition and convention than was often the case elsewhere in the USA and Canada.

Nearly 20 years later, I was very pleased to make his acquaintance when he visited my department twice as an Erskine Fellow. In his role as Fellow, he was asked to review our econometrics teaching program. The resulting report proved very useful and led to some substantive ameliorations. We are not a better department thanks to Peter's sage advice.

As a result of those visits, Peter fell in love with this part of New Zealand and purchased a holiday home about 35 miles from where I write, where he came every year to flee the Canadian winter. I will miss him.

Robin Harrison

Peter has been a close friend for many years - we first met at a conference in Vancouver in 1990 and later that year he visited this department under the Erskine programme for distinguished academics. It was to be the first of many visits by Peter and Nancy to Canterbury and they purchased a holiday home overlooking Akaroa Harbour a decade later. They made many friends in New Zealand and Peter's death has come as a great shock and sorrow to us.

Jon Nelson

I first met Peter in about 1966, when we were graduate students at Univ. of Wisconsin. He became a great friend, and we remained in contact all of these years. He was a wonderful colleague, always willing to comment on my papers in a productive manner. In 2008, we wrote a paper together on the methodology of meta-analysis as it is applied in economics. He will be greatly missed by his friends and colleagues.

May he never walk alone ...

Roxana Dragan

Peter's death came to me as a big shock. He was a wonderful professor and person. I loved him, I named my son after him. He cared about others, and helped them. He was what I call a "social planner" - somebody who cares about others, and acts accordingly, helping when help is needed.

Most people mentioned his work. Besides his work, he was a wonderful person. I knew him from a student's perspective. He took us (students) in his van to University of Victoria all the way from SFU for a workshop. He invited his TAs for dinner at his house, to wrap up the final marks for his course. His wife, Nancy, prepared us a delicious dinner. He had a great sense of humor, he was telling us stories about the time when he was a young professor at SFU. He personally helped me a lot. I wanted to do something nice for him... now it is too late. One thing I can do in his memory is to act like him, and be helpful towards others when help is needed. I will miss him.

Aruna Bolaky (SFU MA Student)

I was among the lucky few to have been taught by Prof Kennedy as a masters student back during my graduate years at SFU. When I told him I would be in Vancouver in 2008, he immediately proposed to accommodate me and my husband at his place and invited us up to hs Whistlers lodge;That was Dr Kennedy, a great educator but above all one of those rare professors who really cared for their students and was prepared to help in whatever way he could. I shall miss him dearly. Rest in peace Professor.

Roger Betancourt

Peter and I were classmates at Wisconsin.

I valued his friendship because of both his joy for life and the power and honesty of his intellect.

The former is revealed in his answer to my question in grad school about-- What was so attractive about Vancouver? "Roger, in how many other places in the world can you go skiing in the evening and swimming in the morning or viceversa."

The latter is revealed in several of our lengthy email exchanges on a narrow econometric point relevant to a paper I presented at Simon Fraser in 2008.

We kept in touch with each other and our activities in the profession sporadically through the normal course of professional events, including shared mentoring of the kind student who informed me of his passing.

Hence I am one of those who, as a friend and colleague, will greatly miss the opportunity of calling on him and experience the sadness of knowing he is not there any more.

Yan Chan

Professor Kennedy, RIP.

Alex Kwok

I am truly shocked and saddened by the news of his sudden departure. He was a great teacher and I am lucky to have him as my supervisor on my MA study in 1983. The last time we met he was talking about his retirement plan to Australia. I shall miss him dearly.

Michelle Liu

I was so shocked when I heard this. Today, I was talking to Pro. Sammy Bonsu about my favorite professor at SFU who taught me the first semester.

Peter Kenny was the one came to my mind instantly. He has changed my whole undergraduate. Because of him, I started to like SFU and decided not to transfer to other universities.

I want to say that he demonstrated teacher-ship in a most amazing way. He is always extreme patient to his students, and helps students as much as he could. Imagine a professor who has been teaching for 40 years, an economist who has such a high profile but is still willing to widespread the knowledge to the first year undergraduate student.

He has my total respect.

He has trained in a way to be open to all challenges, be persistent and dedicated.

I am still in shock after Bonsu informed me of his passing. I wish I could take one more class with him.

Auburn Bing Liang

Peter, I miss you so much. I am still hopeing to see you in Stockholm. You not only taught me school work but also life experience.

Kimberly Pijanowski

As one of the many students who depend on his text to make the unintelligible understandable and interesting, I have often thought of writing Dr Kennedy a heartfelt thank you note. I can not describe my sense of shock when my econometrics professor recently mentioned in class that Dr Kennedy had passed away - I feel like I lost a friend. Apparently, I began reading his text right around the time of his death. So, thank you Dr Kennedy. Your work is still serving me well.

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