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The Great Professors

Daniel Ounjian

Lynne Pepall thought she knew what to expect when she joined the economics department in 1987. “Doing graduate work at the University of Cambridge, I’d been affiliated with faculty whose worlds centered on their research and who they were,” says Pepall, now professor of economics and dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. “But then I come to Tufts and here’s this man who was senior faculty asking, ’What can I do to help you?’”

That man was Daniel Ounjian, A57, who joined the economics department in 1962 and served as chair for eleven years until his retirement in 1993, a year before he died at the age of sixty-four. “Dan Ounjian realized early on that the importance of active scholarship and publications as a criterion for tenure or promotion was a necessary development if Tufts was to achieve its potential as a major research university,” recalls Professor of Economics Dan Richards, Pepall’s husband and another Ounjian hire. “He took on numerous, thankless department duties in part just to free up junior faculty to give us the time we desperately needed to pursue our research.”

As an economist, Ounjian authored a book on public financing and conducted research into investment banking and other topics. He was named Outstanding Educator of America for 1974. But what sticks most with his former colleagues and students was Dan Ounjian the person. “He was an incredibly kind and caring human being who readily shared his passion for music, poetry, and life in general with all he met,” says Richards.

Richard Henken, A80, G81, calls Ounjian “a life changer.” Henken, president of Schochet Associates/Federal Management Company in Boston, took introductory macroeconomics in his first year on the Hill. “It was amazing to me that the chair of the department was teaching freshmen,” he said. “Dan Ounjian started me and many of my classmates on a lifelong love of the subject. He started me down a path toward reaching my full potential. For that, I am forever grateful.” — PHIL PRIMACK, A70

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