December 05, 2001

Robert Williams, UCLA Anderson Professor and Forecast Founder

Robert M. Williams, a former professor of business economics at UCLA Anderson and founder of the esteemed UCLA Anderson Forecast, died on December 6 from heart failure. He was 88.

Williams was a member of the UCLA Anderson faculty for over 30 years and launched the UCLA Anderson Forecast in 1952, which is known today as one of the premier quarterly economic forecasts in the nation. Professor Williams joined the UCLA Anderson faculty in 1947 as a lecturer and retired as professor emeritus in 1983.

"Bob was a true leader and visionary in the field of business economics and was remarkably devoted to the Forecast project for 50 years," said colleague Larry Kimbell, who succeeded Williams as director in 1981. "He was also an extraordinary mentor and cared very deeply about the school as well as the success of the Forecast project."

"In 1952, Mr. Williams took a road not traveled," said colleague and current UCLA Anderson Forecast director Edward Leamer. "He was among the very first to recognize the need and to produce an annual forecast of the U.S. economy. Fifty years later, the enterprise he founded is still going strong."

Born in New York on May 4, 1913, Williams earned his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1950. Four years after beginning his career at UCLA Anderson, Williams founded and directed the UCLA Anderson Forecast, which has produced economic forecasts for the economies of California and nation for over 50 years. During his tenure, Williams taught one of the original courses on forecasting at any university and published over 30 professional articles in prestigious professional journals on economic forecasting.

Williams presented his research at invited lectures worldwide and was most knowledgeable on the development and analysis of the data series needed to construct econometric models. He was the recipient of several honors and awards, including the UCLA Alumni Association University Service Award and the Distinguished Research Award for his work in regional economic forecasting. He served as an elected member of the Center for International Research on Economic Tendency Surveys (CIRET) and was an active member of the Research Committee of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

Williams is survived by his wife, Vera and son, Ken.

A memorial service will be held on December 16 at 2 p.m. in the California Room at the Faculty Center on the UCLA campus. For more information, please call (310) 206-1438.

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