September 15, 2021 at 12:04 pm

University mourns retired Economics Professor Emeritus Ismail Ghazalah

Ismail Ghazalah

Dr. Ismail Ghazalah

From Ohio University News

The Ohio University community mourns the loss of Dr. Ismail Ghazalah, Economics professor emeritus, who passed away on Aug. 27.

He was born in Lebanon and moved to the United States in the late-1950s to pursue his graduate studies in economics. He earned his Ph.D. in economics in 1969 at the University of California Berkeley and then joined Ohio University, according to his obituary.

“After Ismail Ghazala joined Ohio University in 1969 as an assistant professor of economics, we became close colleagues as well as friends. From the beginning he was interested in the development of the department that would attract students to enroll in economics courses. He developed new courses and taught those courses for several years,” says Dr. Rajindar Koshal,  professor emeritus of economics.

Many of Koshal’s memories of Ghazalah involve family, community and gatherings. Ghazalah served for several years as the chairperson of the department, where he hosted annual picnics with faculty and their families, worked to diversify the faculty, and engage with alumni.

Ghazalah also taught economics courses to the executive MBA classes. “As far as I know, he was the only faculty member who once a year invited the class to his house and used to serve them a Middle Eastern dinner. He was a great cook, too. This was a fabulous gesture to build lifelong relationship with these executives,” Koshal said.

“Of course, over the years we used to have dinners at each other’s homes. He was not only a colleague, but also a sincere, loving, and compassionate friend. We will miss him,” Koshal said.

A Scholar and a Gentleman

“Ismail struck me from the very first time I ever met him, at his job interview for Ohio University at the American Economics Association meetings in the late 1960s,” said Dr. Richard Vedder, distinguished professor emeritus. “The first question of most new hires was: Would they get their doctoral dissertation done before coming to campus? Ismail had a great answer: He brought a copy of his very substantial dissertation—already completed! This told me that this was a solid scholar of accomplishment.

“Ismail showed his commitment to both the department and the broader Athens community by serving a long tenure as chair of the Economics Department, as well as serving twice as president of the Athens Rotary Club. “

Athens Rotarian Sheila Mark recalls his welcoming spirit: “Ismail was the first person who really made me feel welcome in our club. He held many officer meetings at his home, and I remember the delicious meals he served. He was the guiding hand when we sponsored the Russian Bankers. What a time we had!!”

Ghazalah was a “kind and welcoming gentleman,” concurs Dr. William Shambora, associate professor of economics. “I first met Ismail when I visited campus for my job interview more than 21 years ago. As I got to know him over the years, I came to understand why he was loved and respected by former students throughout his many years at OU. He was indeed a warm and caring person. He was always cheerful and full of interesting stories about the history of OU and the faculty and alumni who passed through. I got to spend time with him after he retired and his humor and wit stayed with him even as his health deteriorated. I will miss Ismail. He added a bright spark to our lives.”

Ghazalah’s legacy lives on in the hearts of the colleagues he worked with and students he taught.

“I did not have the opportunity to work closely with Ismail as a colleague since he retired right around the time I joined the economics department here at OU. But, over the years, I became good friends with both Ismail and his wife, Barbara, who became like family to me. We enjoyed his company over dinner at their home on many Sundays. My daughter took a special liking to “Bapu” Ismail, who was like a grandpa to her,” said Dr. Shamila Jayasuriya, associate professor of economics.

“He was truly a kind and caring person who always had a smile on his face. He made us laugh with his wonderful sense of humor. The stories he shared with us of his teaching days and his travels around the world especially of the time they spent in Scotland were delightful. He continued to be the sweet and good-natured person that he was even after he fell sick. We are so lucky to have known him and will miss him dearly. We will always remember him with much love.  May he rest in peace.”

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Dr. Ismail Ghazalah Scholarship, which was established in honor of Emeriti Professor Dr. Ismail Ghazalah.


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