Economics professor brought a global approach to classroom

Dave Keefe

Dave Keefe

Dave Keefe, a professor of economics at University of the Pacific for more than three decades who was instrumental in helping found the School of International Studies, died on Dec. 14 at the age of 81.

He served on the Pacific faculty for 33 years and is recalled by peers as an innovative and admired professor and active and effective participant in faculty governance.

“Dave was first and foremost about finding better and more effective ways to teach,” said Professor of Economics Bill Herrin, a colleague and long-time friend. “He was an innovator and an early advocate of team teaching. He challenged traditional ways of thinking and teaching, and that led to creative approaches.” 

Keefe earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and his PhD from University of California, Berkeley. He joined Pacific as a member of the Economics Department, teaching microeconomics and macroeconomics, public economics and international trade and finance.

In a tribute to Keefe, several of his Economics Department colleagues wrote: “Dave was never content with the status quo in departmental or university affairs if he thought there could be an improvement.”

Keefe promoted interdisciplinary and collaborative education grounded in the liberal arts. Those visions led Keefe and a group of other faculty members to help found the School of International Studies in 1987. Until his retirement in 2011, Keefe held a joint appointment in the Economics Department and School of International Studies.

He received the Pacific Alumni Association’s faculty mentor award in 2008. His work with the Department of Economics and the School of International Studies had profound and positive impacts on students, according to former Pacific deans.

“Dave was a founding and core member of the School of International Studies faculty—always helpful, dependable, a rock upon which the school was built,” said Cort Smith, founding dean of the School of International Studies.

Added Margee Ensign, a former School of International Studies dean who now is vice-chancellor for United States International University – Africa in Kenya: “Dave was an outstanding professor and member of the Pacific community. He was an extraordinary teacher and mentor who was completely dedicated to his students, the Economics Department and the School of International Studies.”

Upon his retirement, Keefe wrote an op-ed column for The Record in Stockton, stressing the importance of thinking globally.

“The rest of the world has been connecting more to those of us in the Central Valley every day for the past 30 years. In the future, economic decisions in almost every other country will affect our children and grandchildren,” he wrote.

He was preceded in death by his wife Debby and is survived by his son Aidan, daughter-in-law Sachi and two grandchildren. Services in the Bay Area are pending.