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John G. Cross, a microeconomics policy and theory economist, passed away on Sunday, April 5, 2020 at the Princeton Medical Center. He was 82 years old.
Cross completed his A.B. degree in Physics from Amherst College in 1960 and his Ph.D in Economics from Princeton University in 1964, and for two years (1963-65), he developed economic models for the Secretary of Defense at the Institute for Defense Analysis in Washington, DC. It was a memorable time, including the Kennedy Assassination, Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, and Jackie Kennedy’s Fireworks for the Shah of Iran.
Joining the faculty at U-M as an assistant professor of economics and assistant research economist in the Mental Health Research Institute in 1965, Cross was promoted to associate level in these roles in 1968. Becoming Professor of Economics in 1973, Cross, who particularly enjoyed teaching graduate courses in applied fields (such as Public Health, Education, Public Policy, or Law), spent the following year as a Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Nairobi in Kenya as part of a Ford-Rockefeller Foundation project to establish graduate study in the country.
In 1987, Cross was appointed associate dean for academic appointments in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA), and in 1991 he became associate dean for budget and administration—a position he held through the end of 2000. During that time, he was named senior associate research scientist in 1997. Throughout his tenure as an academic administrator, Cross provided exceptional service to the college and University community while continuing to teach at least one course a year.
Cross specialized in microeconomic decision theory, and was a founder of modern theories of the bargaining process and interdependent decision-making in general. His early book, The Economics of Bargaining, is still referenced in the literature. He was also an early proponent of the introduction of psychological theories into economic models. His book, Theory of Adaptive Economic Behavior, was the first to use formal psychological models of adaptive learning to develop models of market behavior of both producers and consumers, allowing for patterns of behavior other than those dictated by strict rules of rationality.
On May 31, 2001 Cross retired from active faculty status, gaining the title of professor emeritus of economics and senior associate research scientist emeritus, after a 35 year career at the university to take a post as Vice-President for Finance at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in Princeton. In 2004 he returned to academic administration as Vice-President for Finance & Administration at Bloomfield College, Bloomfield, New Jersey where the challenges facing a small private college would engage him for eight years, well beyond the normal retirement age. His attachment to Bloomfield continued after retirement.
Cross had a strong interest in music and art. He was a tenor in the Ann Arbor Cantata singers (and the organization’s treasurer), a season subscriber at the Metropolitan Opera, a member/supporter of several art museums, and a skillful amateur photographer.
John is survived by his wife Cynthia Sahagian Cross, their daughter Susan Marcy Cross of Lawrence, Kansas, son David Elton Cross of Saline, Michigan, and four grandchildren.
The family will schedule a memorial gathering when family and friends are free to travel.