Peter O. Steiner, University of Michigan Professor Emeritus of Economics, Dean Emeritus of the College Of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and Professor Emeritus of Law, died peacefully at home in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 26, 2010, in his 88th year. At his side were his beloved wife of 42 years, Patricia Owen Steiner, and two of their sons, David D. Steiner and Gregory O. Miller.
Peter was born on July 9, 1922 in New York City. He graduated from the Fieldston School in Bronx, New York in 1940, where he lettered in three sports, and was a chess champion. He received his A.B. in Economics, magna cum laude, from Oberlin College in 1943, as a member of the U.S. Navy’s V-7 program.
Ensign, eventually Lieutenant, Steiner served during World War II on active duty from 1944 to 1946, first as an instructor in navigation at Notre Dame, then in the Pacific theater aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Independence, and after the war in the inactive Naval Reserves until 1957. While at sea he developed his great love for, and skill at, the art and craft of poker – a love and skill that remained with him for the rest of his life. His abiding love for fishing, particularly fly fishing, was born even before his naval career, and also endured throughout his life.
Peter received his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University in 1950, and began his distinguished academic career as a professor of economics (and his equally distinguished avocation as a denizen of Thursday night poker games) first at the University of California, Berkeley (1949-1957), then at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1957-1968). In 1968 Professor Steiner accepted a dual appointment as Professor of Economics and Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, where he created the joint J.D. and Ph.D. law and economics program. He also served U of M as Chair of the Economics Department (1971-1974) and as Dean of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (1981-89), retiring from the University (though never from his favorite Ann Arbor poker game) in 1991.
In the course of his long career, Professor Steiner was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and the Order of the Coif, and received Fellowships from, among others, the Guggenheim, Ford and Rockefeller Foundations. While on one of these fellowships in Kenya in 1975 he participated in the successful efforts to free four researchers – three of them American students – kidnapped by Congo rebels from Jane Goodall’s Gombe Stream research station in Tanzania. From 1976 to 1978 he served as President of the American Association of University Professors. His commitment to the AAUP and to academic freedom continued even after his retirement, when he served on several AAUP committees, most recently in 2006-07 as part of the group investigating complaints of improper faculty terminations and demotions at Louisiana universities and colleges in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
In retirement, he and Pat divided their time between Ann Arbor, and, first, Snowmass, Colorado, and, later, Henderson, Nevada. They also found time to travel extensively, circumnavigating the globe at the equator, and visiting Antarctica, as well as less adventurous, but equally rewarding, domestic trips to spend time with family and friends, or on their frequent stays in their retreat near Glen Arbor, in Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula.
In addition to numerous academic publications, Professor Steiner was the author of several books, including Economic Status of the Aged (with Robert Dorfman), Mergers: Motives, Effects, Policies and the eight American editions of the textbook Economics, co-authored with Richard G. Lipsey. His own favorite book, however, was Thursday-Night Poker: How to Understand, Enjoy--and Win -- a combination hard-headed practical guide (complete with statistical formulas and footnotes) and lyrical love song to his favorite non-academic pastime.
In addition to Pat, David and Greg, Peter is survived by his and Pat’s four other children, Mary C. (“Sue”) Robinson, Alison Steiner, Matthew B. Miller, and Anthony W. Miller and his nephews Nicholas Amdur and Elliott Long. He also leaves behind six grandchildren, three step-grandchildren and several great- and great-great nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his sisters Carol Steiner Long and Alice Steiner Amdur, and by his first wife, Ruth Riggs Steiner, from whom he was divorced in 1967.
A memorial service will be held in Ann Arbor at 1:30 p.m., Friday, July 9, 2010 at the Library Gallery, Room 100, University of Michigan Hatcher Graduate Library.
-- "Steiner, Peter Otto July 9, 1922 - June 26, 2010," posted on annarbor.com July 29, 2010
More Information About Peter O. Steiner
Board of Regents Memoir
"Peter O. Steiner: Memoir" Proceedings of the Board of Regents (1954-1957), 75.
Law Quadrangle Notes Articles
"Faculty," 39 L. Quadrangle Notes 11 (Spring, 1996).
"Peter O. Steiner Named LSA Dean," 26 L. Quadrangle Notes 7 (Fall, 1981).
"Prof. Peter Steiner Named to CED Post," 22 L. Quadrangle Notes 4 (Fall, 1977).
"Peter Steiner Recalls Experiences in Africa," 20 L. Quadrangle Notes 1-2 (Winter, 1976).
"Professor Peter Steiner Elected AAUP Head," 20 L. Quadrangle Notes 3 (Spring, 1976).
"Prof. Peter O. Steiner," 13 L. Quadrangle Notes 6-7 (Spring, 1969).