A message from Dean Douglas Elmendorf

I am writing with the very sad news of the passing of Francis Bator. Francis was the Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Political Economy Emeritus and a founder of the Kennedy School’s public policy program. He will be remembered for his distinguished career as a scholar and teacher in the field of macroeconomics and for his contributions to the Kennedy School, the country, and the world.

Francis Bator was born in Hungary, received his S.B. and Ph.D. from MIT, and served in the U.S. Army. He then held a number of senior roles in government. Most notably, Francis was the deputy national security advisor to President Lyndon Johnson from 1965 to 1967. He was also a senior economic advisor in the U.S. Agency for International Development, special consultant to the secretary of the Treasury, and consultant to the departments of State and Defense. Throughout his career, Francis wrote widely on macroeconomics and macroeconomic policy, as well as on the Vietnam War and on European policy and foreign economic policy. His work was published in the premier economics journals as well as in Foreign Affairs, The Economist, The Atlantic Monthly, and elsewhere.

Francis arrived at Harvard in 1967. He became an important figure in the development of the modern Kennedy School, helping to shape the School to what it is today. Those who knew him here remember Francis not only as an influential thinker and academic, but as a friend and a dedicated member of our community. In 2013, the Kennedy School held a dinner to celebrate Francis and his many contributions to the School and to the wider world. At that event, David Ellwood presented him with a proclamation that praised the “myriad ways in which he contributes to the vitality and idealism of our work and mission” and recognized him as a “friend, scholar, teacher, mentor, and keeper of our history.”

I came to know Francis a little during my two years as dean. He would stop by my office or email me with suggestions for useful steps I could take at the School or with comments about things I had done or said. He was invariably both kind and insightful, and I always looked forward to seeing him and hearing from him. Francis would also talk with me about his hopes and concerns for the world, and he had many of both. In his last message to me a few months ago, he was closely attentive to the issues of the day, just as I can picture his being in the 1960s. I will miss him very much.

Indeed, Francis will be deeply missed by so many–by his friends and colleagues, by the generations of students he taught and mentored here, and by people he touched around the world. My thoughts go out to his family at this difficult time.