Professor Emeritus Turning 100

Robert Aronson helped shape ILR trajectory
Thursday, January 19, 2017

The ILR School at Cornell University was four years old when Robert Aronson came from Princeton University on a research appointment to complete a plant shutdown study in 1950.

Aronson, who would earn his doctorate in economics from Princeton in 1953, remained with Cornell to teach and to edit the “Industrial and Labor Relations Review” until 1963, when he became a full-time member of ILR’s Labor Economics and Income Security Department.

An Ithaca resident, he became a professor emeritus in 1983. On Sunday, Aronson turns 100.

“He was certainly an active and influential member of the faculty back in the early days,” Lois S. Gray, the Jean McKelvey-Alice Grant professor emerita of labor management relations, said in an interview this week.

Gray came to ILR in 1947. As editor of the review, Aronson “helped put ILR on the map as a leading school,” Gray said.

“He was loyal to the school and he would always help colleagues rather than focus on his own particular interests,” she said. “He was very collegial and he was always very dedicated to the ILR School in the early days.”

“He was one of the people I admired and thought highly of,” she said.

Aronson was involved, Gray said, in studies of Ithaca area industries, “how they came into being and the challenges they faced, which was an interesting contribution to the literature.”

He was also known as an effective teacher, Gray said. “He had a good reputation among students,” she remembered.

Aronson taught courses in “manpower policy,” now known as human resources policy, as well as basic undergraduate and graduate courses in labor economics, according to the Cornell publication, “The ILR School at Fifty: Voices of the Faculty, Alumni and Friends.”

He was involved in public service, spending a summer in Ghana, where he served as a consultant to the newly installed government on public sector wage policy.

Aronson authored, “Self-Employment: A Labor Market Perspective,” which was published by ILR Press in 1991.

“Looking back over 44 years of my relationship with the ILR School and Cornell University, I feel extremely fortunate, having been rewarded in a number of ways both personal and professional,” Aronson wrote in “The ILR School at Fifty.”