Werner Sichel obituary

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News
Headshot, Dr. Werner Sichel.

Dr. Werner Sichel

Dr. Werner Sichel, a widely known scholar and professor emeritus of economics at Western Michigan University, died in Boca Raton, Florida, Aug. 4. He was 83.

Sichel, a longtime Kalamazoo resident, joined the WMU faculty in 1960 and retired in 2004 after more than 44 years of service to the University. His wife, Beatrice, WMU professor emerita of libraries, preceded him in death in 2010.

Rising through the ranks, Sichel took on several administrative roles at the University, including serving as chair of the Department of Economics from 1985 to 2001. He also served in numerous leadership positions for WMU's Faculty Senate, which he was active in for 35 years.

Dr. Werner Sichel

At WMU, Sichel is credited with stimulating interest in economics and bringing in Nobel Laureates and other high-profile speakers for a long-running lecture series that now bears his name. The economics department in 1963 began hosting the series, which is co-sponsored by the W.E. Upjohn Institute. The lectures are open to the public and formatted with the general public in mind.

During the course of his career, Sichel wrote, co-wrote, edited or co-edited nearly 20 economics textbooks. Many were used in classrooms around the world. "Economics," one of the books he co-wrote, was among the top 10 such texts in the nation in the late 1980s. In addition, "Basic Economic Concepts," another co-written work, was translated into Chinese during that decade and became the most widely used basic economics textbook authored by Westerners.

Sichel's research expertise was in economic regulation, industrial organization, and mergers and acquisitions, including the economic impact of mergers and acquisitions. He was often called upon to comment on economic issues in local, state and national media.

Born in Munich, Sichel emigrated to the United States as a young boy when his family fled Nazi Germany in the wake of the "Night of Broken Glass," a wave of violent anti-Jewish pogroms that took place Nov. 9 and 10 in 1938.

He became a U.S. citizen in 1947 and went on to earn a bachelor's degree from New York University in 1956 and a master's and doctoral degree from Northwestern University in 1960 and 1964, respectively.

Sichel was a member of the American Economics Association as well as a member and past president of the Midwest Economics Association, Midwest Business Economics Association and Economics Society of Michigan. Prior to coming to WMU, he taught at Lake Forest College and Roosevelt University.


A funeral service will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14, in the Langeland Funeral Homes Westside (Oshtemo) Chapel, 3926 S. 9th St., Kalamazoo.

Interment will immediately follow at Jewish Riverside Cemetery, 1522 Riverview Drive, Kalamazoo.


Visit Sichel's personalized website.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Congregation of Moses or WMU.