Distinguished University Professor Emeritus Wallace E. Oates passed away on October 30. Wally had a brilliant career at the University of Maryland, spanning more than 35 years.
Wally earned a Ph.D. from Stanford in 1965 and spent 14 years on the faculty at Princeton University before coming to Maryland in 1979 in what was called “one of the luckiest breaks the department has ever had.”
A scholar of international significance, Wally produced a body of work equal to the very best in the profession. He changed both public policy and the course of economics. A prolific and influential researcher, Wally wrote six books, edited nine volumes and wrote nearly 100 papers.
He had an enormous impact on both public and environmental economics. His first book, Fiscal Federalism, published in 1972, continues to define the research agenda of local public economics to this day, and his book with William Baumol, The Theory of Environmental Policy, made environmental economics a core part of economics; it has, arguably, been the single most influential work in this field.
Wally received many accolades recognizing the significance of his contributions to economics. He was the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Senior Fulbright-Hays Scholar at the London School of Economics, a University Fellow at Resources for the Future and one of the first Fellows of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. In 1997, he was elected to the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters; in 2000 given an honorary Ph.D. from St. Gallen University in Switzerland. He received the Daniel M. Holland Medal from the National Tax Association in 2002.
Always a superb teacher and advisor, Wally produced students who would shape the direction of local and public finance for decades. He won innumerable teaching awards and was a highly sought-after dissertation advisor. His advisees include tenured faculty members at many universities and colleges, including Dartmouth College, Tulane University, the University of Texas, Rice University, and Texas A&M University, while others have risen to prominent positions in public agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Trade Commission.
Wally also had the rare distinction of being awarded two of the University’s highest honors; in 2006, he received the University of Maryland’s Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award, and in 2009 was named a Distinguished University Professor.
Wally was a superb economist and a great human being. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues, students, and friends.