Economics and Management Professor Jim McCarley Passes Away

October 4, 2018

By Jake Weber

Professor emeritus of economics and management Jim McCarley passed away October 1 at his home in Albion. He was 80 years old. McCarley is survived by his wife, English professor Judith Lockyer, four sons, including Michael, ’84, and Brendan, ’99, and three grandchildren.

Jim McCarley, 1971

Beyond his official tenure of 41 years (1965-2006), McCarley continued as an adjunct professor for a decade after retirement. A microeconomist with research interests in the minimum wage and employment practices, McCarley developed courses including Women in Economics, Econometrics, Armchair Economics (a First-Year seminar), and Great Issues in Social Sciences.

Emeritus professor Gaylord Smith recalls that McCarley chaired their department during the growth period before and during creation of the Professional Management Program (eventually the Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management). McCarley directed the program from 1971 to 1974.

“Jim was instrumental in the development of this unique program which was designed to provide liberal arts students with an attractive background for business employers,” Smith says. “It was a very popular program and it attracted exceptional students. I certainly credit Jim’s vision and leadership for the success of this program.


McCarley in front of Epworth Hall, 1987

In 2016, Peter “Tim” Ponta, ’73, reunited with McCarley at Cascarelli’s for an event that took both back to Ponta’s college days.

“Jim and I would meet with [political science professor Charley] Schutz and other students to discuss politics and economics from Keynes to Friedman, to Russel Kirk to Karl Marx,” Ponta explained. “It was the best of the best. Jim was available always for spirited discussion, long after class time was ended, into the night — even 45 years later. Priceless.”

Courtney Meyer, ’11, didn’t even start at Albion until a year after McCarley’s official retirement, yet still cites him as a key mentor.

McCarley advised her Honors thesis and “saw so much more in me than I ever saw in myself. That unwavering faith carried me through graduate school and affirmed my continued commitment in developing young people into changemakers,” says Meyer, who was named a Distinguished Young Alumna in 2018. “I would neither be where I am professionally (the International Food Policy Research Institute) nor who I am without his guidance and steadfast support.”

McCarley’s teaching and research were recognized by a number of awards, including an Albion College Outstanding Faculty Member award, an Outstanding Educator of America award, a Kellogg Foundation Fellowship, and a Kellogg Foundation grant. He served on the 1997 Presidential Search Committee and helped develop College strategic plans with two different presidents. He directed the GLCA’s European Academic Term in 1990 in the former Yugoslavia.

“Jim was committed to the idea of a broad-based liberal arts education, and he built a department that fit into that framework,” says emeritus professor Dan Christiansen,” noting the “tireless work” McCarley also gave to the institution as a whole. “He was a person whose judgment I greatly respected. He touched the lives of many, and we won’t be the same without him.”