Professor Werner Baer

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Comments Feb 1, 2018 6:52 pm

I am thankful to Werner Bear that he invited me to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  I had the privilege to stay there for a year.  But as a young woman, when I left Illinois, I never said “good bye” to him.  So I do it here: good bye Werner and thank you for influencing my life significantly.

Reply to at 6:52 pm Mar 16, 2017 4:40 pm

I was among the lucky students at U of I to be a student of Werner, at his signature class The Latin American Economy in Spring 2015. It was the last time he taught that class. He was certainly the best professor I had at Urbana-Champaign. I was impressed by his knowledge, his wisdom, his humor and most importantly, his love and generosity to students.

Probably I was the very last student he brought to Brazil, the beloved land of Werner. I was an aspiring master student at that time, eager to explore more of the developing world. Werner then found me an opportunity in Brazil. We communicated via Email when I first arrived in Sao Paulo on February 2016. He kindly invited me to come to his apartment at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro around June. He addressed the city as his "Brazilian headquarter".

Unfortunately, that never happened. On the afternoon of March 31st, I learned the sad news at NEREUS, University of Sao Paulo. I first cannot believe it because he was in very good shape a couple of months ago. I still remember one time we met in swimming pool and he was joking, "Now you see me both dressed and undressed". His sense of humor was unforgettable.

I wouldn't have come to Brazil if not inspired by Werner. My first impression of him was during the coffee break chat at MSPE lounge. He and Fred were always in the middle of some argument. Fred called himself "Mr. Smart" and Werner claimed himself as "Mr. Dump". I guess they would not even end their arguments now in heaven. Werner always talks to other students around the room and ask about their studies or the current affairs in their home countries. Quite often, some Brazilian students stayed for a long conversation with him. One of these Brazilian central bankers told me, "Werner knows Brazil better than any of us". I was fascinated by those discussions and I found so many similarities between China and Brazil.

Werner was an extremely gifted teacher. He loved teaching and considered it as an obligation for scholars to pass the knowledge to the next generation. He was able to connect theories with real life observations and make economics really relevant to life. Some former students call it, "Economics the Werner Baer way". Those principles he taught to his students have long-lasting impact beyond the classroom at Urbana-Champaign.

He life touched the lives of many others. I will never forget his love and generosity to his students and his true spirit of a great scholar. He is the role model that I will always look upon to. Hail, Werner Baer!

Niu, Yuanhao @ Notre Dame, Economics

Reply to at 4:40 pm Aug 2, 2016 2:51 am

He was great man, great professor. It was  great honor  to be a  student in his  Int. Econ and  Latin American Econ  classes. He has many students and  friends in Turkey. We as his students in Turkey are very sad to hear that  we lost him. He changed my life by encouraging me to  follow  a phd in economics. He had written  a ref letter for me.  I extent my deepest sympathies to his family and UIUC Economics Dept.  My condolences.  Professor Baer We will never forget you.  Rest  in peace.

Mehmet Aydiner, Turkey

Reply to at 2:51 am Jul 22, 2016 12:14 am

Werner Baer was my mentor and friend.  I was very excited to learn about Brazil as an emerging economy.  In Summer 1987, I lived in Rio as an "estagiario" or intern at the Foundation called Funcex.  Werner had obtained the placement for me after he had come to the University of Texas to guide our Professional Research class on Brazilian political economy.  He was very kind and invited me to stay with him in Copacabana in a large apartment near the beach.  He was extremely generous and deeply caring towards all his students.  Werner was an economist who thought about making life better for all people, not just the wealthy.   

Reply to at 12:14 am Apr 9, 2016 10:56 am

As one of his former Ph.D students in economic development, it is with great sadness that I learn of his passing. Werner was a great teacher and mentor to me and, more importantly, a fine human being. He will be greatly missed by all those who knew him, but his life's work will continue in the countless economic students that he taught and mentored. Goodbye my friend and teacher. Miguel D. Ramirez, Professor of Economics, Trinity College, Hartford, CT 06106

Reply to at 10:56 am Apr 6, 2016 7:46 pm

Werner Baer was my mentor as an economics undergraduate, and he played a big role in shaping me as an economist.  His generosity was unparalleled, and he mentored an entire generation of American students as well as an enormous fraction of top economists in Latin America. He was fluent in at least five language that I know of. Werner's intellect and erudition were unparalleled, and he was a true intellectual.  I was always impressed with how open he was and how he was willing to engage even a lowly undergraduate like me in extensive conversations. Even as a non-Brazilian, he devoted his life to Brazil and Latin America. I still cannot fully believe that he is gone, because he was always so full of drive and energy that nothing could slow him down.  This is a great loss for the University of Illinois, for the economics profession, for Brazil, and for the world.

Reply to at 7:46 pm Apr 5, 2016 11:12 am

Professor Werner Baer was a compassionate, intellectually gifted and generous man.  From the time I arrived for my doctoral studies in 1983, he regularly offered my fellow graduate students and me lunch and an open office for assistance and guidance.  I was interested in Development Economics, but Werner ignited my desire to make it my primary research field.  I took two classes from him, and as a teacher he infused his lectures with passion and a huge amount of information.  As my dissertation chair, he was an exacting editor and remarkably fast.  It was a little upsetting that he was right every time.  We had our disagreements, but he always let me have my own voice.  He had a substantial and impactful life.  When I think of a gentleman and a scholar, I think of Werner.

Reply to at 11:12 am Apr 5, 2016 9:06 am

Professor Baer and his courses identify my experience in this school. Perhaps, this beloved old man even identifies my life. World will never be as rich as before when my dear professor still lived. I hope his voice and image stay and never fade from my mind.


Reply to at 9:06 am Apr 4, 2016 2:32 pm

I will always remember Werner's generosity and kindness. I was recently doing the exercise of writing down the most influential people in my life. The fingers in my two hands were enough to make that list, and in that list, I included Professor Baer. He always cared about his students, helped them in any way possible and gracefully invited us to his home to celebrate his famous "cheese and wine" gatherings.

I randomly crossed paths with him at Sao Paulo airport, and we spent a couple of hours talking about our lives and he asked me about all the Argentine students....not only the academic / professional aspects, but also the personal aspects. He always cared about us, his students, and demonstrated that with his words and his actions.

Werner, you will be remembered by many, thank you for your contributions to development economics, and to your students' lives.

Reply to at 2:32 pm Apr 4, 2016 1:28 pm

I really appreciated the his guidance and will always remember the few times he took me out to lunch. I remember him telling me that he didn't have a mobile phone because there was no way to forward any calls to his house phone if he was around to answer his cell phone. (early 2000's, although I think call forwarding did exist at the time). I wonder if he ever got a mobile phone.

Reply to at 1:28 pm Apr 4, 2016 10:34 am

If it could think of one person who made me the most proud to have studied economics, it would be Professor Baer. I will remember him as a man who used his knowledge to help people, be it through advising governmental policy at a national level and all the way down to inspiring future leaders in his classroom. He was a brilliant man who will leave a lasting legacy, and I am grateful to have crossed paths with him.


Jim Wall

Economics 2011

Reply to at 10:34 am Apr 3, 2016 9:51 am

It was mid February, we were having a conversation in his office and Werner said “we should talk with Nils Jacobsen on this, let’s go”, so he grabbed his green parka and started walking - slowly but determined- the four blocks to Nils’ office. Add to the scene that Werner was 83 years old, that the campus was covered in snow and that the wind chill was well below zero (Farenheit). This minor anecdote clearly shows who Werner Baer was: a man who put action to words, be it an idea or the urgent need to help somebody. I only hope we can be a bit as generous as he was with his own colleagues and students. Get out, grab your coat, head into the snow. Do it. Like Werner.

Walter Sosa Escudero


Reply to at 9:51 am Apr 3, 2016 7:16 am

I am deeply pained to learn of Prof. Baer's sudden passing. I was privileged to get to know him during my Fulbright research stay at the UIUC where he was my host professor for the last fall semester. There are not many people who could compare to Werner in terms of his high erudition, good taste, good company, vigour, incessant willingness to help. I shall keep good memories of the nice dinners at his house where we have discussed various interesting topics with other knowedgeable folks over a glass of wine. I feel really sorry that he could not make it to return a visit to my home country (Bulgaria) and deliver the public lecture on Brazil's industrialization successes and failures that we have arranged for this May. He will be terribly missed by all people that have known him! Rest in peace, Werner!

Reply to at 7:16 am Apr 3, 2016 5:10 am

I am deeply pained to learn of Prof. Baer's sudden passing. I was privileged to get to know him during my Fulbright research stay at the UIUC where he was my host professor for the last fall semester. There are not many people who could compare to Werner in terms of his high erudition, good taste, good company, vigour, incessant willingness to help. I shall keep good memories of the nice dinners at his house where we have discussed various interesting topics with other knowedgeable folks over a glass of wine. I feel really sorry that he could not make it to return a visit to my home country (Bulgaria) and deliver the public lecture on Brazil's industrialization successes and failures that we have arranged for this May. He will be terribly missed by all people that have known him! Rest in peace, Werner! 

Reply to at 5:10 am Apr 3, 2016 2:44 am

This January I visited the campus with my 17 years old son to show him the place where he was born and introduced him to Werner Baer who was pivotal in getting me to study at the Ph.D program here at UIUC. I had 2 pictures of Werner with me and my son, and I felt very sad reminescing this great guy. As many of his students, I'll be eternally grateful to Werner because of his inmense generosity and his advise. The best tribute to Werner is trying to do with our students what he did for us, I know that we'll be short but it is worth to try.

Werner desde Peru un recuerdo eterno,

Pepe Tavera

Reply to at 2:44 am Apr 2, 2016 11:43 pm

This January I visited in the company of my 17 years old son the campus, and we were invited by Werner to dine. He took us to a restaurant where they knew him and treated him with great deference.  I remembered that I told him how well he looked and his sudden death for me is something that I couldn't believe.
He was a great teacher whose main characteristic was his immense generosity. All Latin Americans have lost a great friend. Rest in peace dear Werner!

José A. Tavera 

Dept of Economics

Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru

Reply to at 11:43 pm Apr 2, 2016 6:40 pm

While I overlapped with Werner for only a few years while I was at the U of I in the 1980s, I feel a great debt to him for introducing me to two of the best students I have had the opportunity to supervise and with whom I have maintained a lifelong professional and personal relationship. Werner was a great resource for the U of I and is a big loss.


Stephen Turnovsky

Reply to at 6:40 pm Apr 2, 2016 9:50 am

I met Werner my freshman year when I took ECON 103 with him. He came up to my in a crowded lecture hall of over 1,200 people and told me to stop by his office hours. I was confused but later in the week I did. He told me that I was one of the only students he saw in his class every single day and wanted to get to know me. I was shocked that I wasn't just a number like some had said I would be. Over the years we grew closer and became friends. He was one of the most generous, caring people that I have ever met. Whenever I mentioned a problem I was having he immediately offered to help in any way that he could. He will be greatly missed by many, not only as a professor but as a friend. 

Reply to at 9:50 am Apr 1, 2016 8:51 pm

Muchas gracias profesor Baer. Fue un honor para mi haber tomado una clase con usted en el año 2014. Además de economista, sus clases parecían de historiador, politólogo, filosofo ... que gran maestro !!! Muchas gracias y la familia Baer debe estar más que orgullosa de usted !!! Gracias desde Colombia !!!

Reply to at 8:51 pm Apr 1, 2016 7:39 pm

When I told Werner I had been accepted into UIUC's Ph.D. in Economics program, he asked me if I had a place to stay in Champaign-Urbana when I got there. When I told him I didn't, he immediately said I could stay at his house, for he was going to be out of town at that time. I and my wife ended up staying there for a week. I can't think of another professor who would do that for his students, let alone one he had met just a few times. But Werner was like that, always generous, always willing to help students and share his knowledge. Students always looked forward to the soirees at Werner's house, which featured distinguished guests and entertaining conversations with the host (as well as snacks and wine). Werner left an imprint on several generations of Brazilian economists, and his work will influence many others to come. We will miss you, Werner!

Reply to at 7:39 pm Apr 1, 2016 6:40 pm

A good man, loyal friend, and knowledgeable professor. It's extremly hard to believe he has already left us. I really hope it was all a joke. The last time I saw him was in December 2015 when I went to his office in my graduation gown. At that time I would never believe the picture of him and me standing together shoulder to shoulder with big smiles on our faces will be the last one. Everytime I saw him he looked healthy and energetic. In summer, he went to gym three times a week. He usually went swimming, but I used to see him on the lower level of ARC. He always had the positive attitude towards life. I remeber the time he told me how he enjoyed the surprise on his colleagues' faces after he showed them the colorful 10 hkd I gave him. Now I can feel nothing but sorry that I didn't fullfill my promise of teaching him Chinese. He was such an intelligent polyglot. I won't be surprised if he suddenly speaks fluent Chinese the next time we meet. He was humble, amicable, and supportive. It's my great honor to be his friend. May his soul rest in peace. 

Reply to at 6:40 pm Apr 1, 2016 6:27 pm

Even though I have never taken Professor Baer's class before, I know he was a well-achieved professor and I am feeling devastated for his death. I will never have the chance to talk to such a brilliant person. I want to say that because of people like Professor Baer, the field of economics got developed and the world got better. He contributed his lifetime to develop the knowledge of economics. As a student, I feel like it is our responsibility to follow his step, to develop knowledge, to make contribution to the world and to make the world a better place. 

Reply to at 6:27 pm Apr 1, 2016 5:46 pm

I will always be very thankful to Professor Baer. Without his support, I would not have had the opportunity to study at U of I. He was also very supportive throughout my student period at U of I. I learned a lot from him. He was very gifted - not only in terms of this intelectual ability but also in terms of vision. He wrote about economic development, but he also acted to promote economic development. His longstanding commitment to enable students, like myself, to augment his/her human capital has surely helped many Latin American countries, not only Brazil, to advance in economic and social development.

Reply to at 5:46 pm