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Graduate Endowment Fund Honors Katherine Terrell

1/1/2010 --

Popular Ross professor will be greatly missed.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Katherine Terrell, professor of business economics and public policy at the University of Michigan, died from respiratory complications Dec. 29 in the Dominican Republic. She was 59.

Terrell, who taught at both the Ross School of Business and the Ford School of Public Policy, was an expert on the impact of government policies and the effect of globalization on wages, employment, income inequality, and firm performance in emerging market economies. Her research and teaching focused on countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America, where she grew up.

She directed the international business PhD program at the Ross School and created the International Economic Development Program at the Ford School, a program in which students travel each spring to a different developing country to study policy issues.

"Katherine was a wonderful colleague and friend," says Francine Lafontaine, professor of business economics at Ross. "I will miss her energies and determination, her dedication to the people around her, her dependability, her constant willingness to help, her sense of humor, and all the other things she did and was. Her death leaves a great gap in our hearts and our community."

Schools Establish Katherine Terrell Svejnar Endowment Fund

In honor of Terrell, the newly established Katherine Terrell Svejnar Endowment Fund for International Education, jointly held by Ross and the Ford School, will provide support for graduate students doing international work, including internships or field work. A first preference will be given to a student whose work is in Central or Eastern Europe or Latin America, with a second preference for work in a developing country and a third preference for any international location. The funds will be alternated annually between Ross and the Ford School with the exact purpose designated by the respective deans.

The Presidentís Donor Challenge for the Student Global Experience will match all gifts to this fund with $1 for every $2 donated. Gifts can be made to:

The Katherine Terrell Svejnar Endowment Fund for International Education
The University of Michigan
735 S. State St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

The fund is a fitting tribute to Terrell's legacy at the University. Marina Whitman, also a professor at both Ross and the Ford School, says she had long admired Terrell's commitment to her work and frequent travels abroad, which often included accompanying Ford School students on their annual trips to developing countries.

"Kathy was not only a valued colleague and a dear friend, but also a person of remarkable courage," Whitman says. "She carried a full teaching load and was extremely active in research and organizing conferences, despite health problems that most of us would have found totally daunting."

Graduate student Elizabeth Talbert describes Terrell as a great mentor and a good friend.

"I would stop by her office to ask a question and end up talking for half an hour," Talbert says. "She was always willing to talk about anything. She was both a demanding professor and a supportive and caring friend, and I am grateful for her brief, important presence in my life."

Terrell was married to Jan Svejnar, who also teaches at the Ross School and the Ford School, where he heads the International Policy Center. The two collaborated on several academic journal articles, books, and other research. They are the parents of two grown children, Daniel and Laura, both U-M graduates.

In addition to her research, Terrell consulted with many international organizations, including the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. She also was a research fellow at the IZA (Institute for the Study of Labor) in Germany, a visiting researcher at the Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education at Charles University in Prague, and previously, a research associate at the Center for Economic Research in London.

Terrell joined the Ross School faculty in 1996 and the Ford School in 2001. She was an active faculty affiliate of the U-M's Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the Center for Russian and East European Studies. Prior to coming to U-M, she taught at the University of Pittsburgh and Cornell University, where she received her PhD in 1984.

To read memories and stories about Katherine Terrell, please click here to view her memorial page. If you have a memory or story you would like to share, email it to

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat, (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847,