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Prof Rodney Thom former colleague and HOS passed away on August 14th

The UCD School of Economics is greatly saddened by the passing of our former colleague and head of school,        Professor Rodney Thom.

Rodney Thom, who died on August 14, was an extremely distinguished member of the School of Economics, and served as Head of School for many years. Born in Belfast in 1944, Rodney studied at Queens University Belfast and the London School of Economics and joined the School in 1977 from the University of Ulster. He settled in immediately and proved himself to be a highly versatile and hugely respected teacher. He covered all aspects of economics: micro, macro and econometrics from first year to graduate level, always imparting information in a clear, structured manner. He also published widely, again across a range of fields and in high quality journals, both domestic and international. In 1994 he was appointed as a Jean Monnet professor, reflecting his expertise in international economics and exchange rates. 

Rodney first became Head of the School of Economics in 1995 and continued in that role, apart from a break in the early 2000s (serving in the International Office) until 2009. His approach as Head of School was simple: to concentrate on the core issues of teaching and research and to hire the very best people who could do this. He provided support and encouragement but essentially let people get on with doing what they were good at. Helped by a favourable financial environment and under Rodney’s direction, the School grew significantly during the 2000s, including hires at senior level. Critically, this provided a cushion for when the financial environment turned less benign post 2008. 

As well as providing great leadership to the School, Rodney also encouraged a high degree of collegiality. He was always approachable and discreet. Before the phrase became widely used he was an extremely “family-friendly” Head, always flexible and helpful to staff with family commitments. He regularly frequented the UCD Common Room and made friendships with UCD staff from all over the University. 

Outside UCD, Rodney’s main interests were his family, sport, and especially Glentoran FC. He was devoted to his wife and two children and also a long-suffering supporter of the Glens, frequently travelling north to attend the Oval. In retirement, he moved to west Cork and so there were fewer football trips but his new home provided a focal point for the family, which had now expanded to include grandchildren and a late-discovered brother in Canada. 

By Professor David Madden and Professor Emeritus Cormac O'Gráda

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