News Bureau | University of Illinois

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign logo


2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008
Email to a friend envelope icon for send to a friend

Former U. of I. political economist, adviser to four U.S. presidents, dies at 90

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor

David Linowes
Click photo to enlarge
David Linowes was the Boeschenstein Professor of Political Economy and Public Policy, a named chair within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, from 1976 to 1987. He continued to teach, research and write on campus as an emeritus until 2000.


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — David F. Linowes, a political economist, author, educator and adviser to four presidents, died on Monday, Oct. 29, at his home in Chevy Chase, Md. 

He was 90 years old and died of natural causes, a family member said.

Renowned as the “father of socioeconomic accounting” and a pioneer in the study of privacy in the workplace, Linowes worked under Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, providing a “blueprint for meeting the needs of American citizens while improving service and reducing costs,” according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Linowes was the Boeschenstein Professor of Political Economy and Public Policy, a named chair within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, from 1976 to 1987. In 1987, he was named Boeschenstein Professor Emeritus, but he continued teaching, researching and writing on campus until June of 2000. He also was a professor of business administration at Illinois and senior adviser for the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at Illinois.

Linowes wrote more than a dozen published reports and books. The books include “Managing Growth Through Acquisition”; “Strategies for Survival”; “The Corporate Conscience”; “Privacy in America: Is Your Private Life in the Public Eye?”; “Creating Public Policy: The Chairman’s Memoirs of Four Presidential Commissions”; and “Living Through 50 Years of Economic Progress With Ten Presidents: The Most Productive Generation in History.”

Linowes’ survey of privacy practices among 84 Fortune 500 companies helped draw attention to a widespread problem in corporate America; he released his findings in April of 1996 in a report, “Privacy in the Workplace.”

Linowes dedicated his professional life to blending principles of accounting with visions for public policy, and to strengthening the role of corporations and government in improving democratic society in America.

In the Lyndon Johnson administration, Linowes was appointed leader of state department economic development missions to Turkey, India and Greece; for the United Nations, to Pakistan and Iran; and again for the state department to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay to advise officials on their privatization efforts.

Later, as an appointed chairman of four presidential commissions, Linowes produced substantive reports that led to new legislation and affected the public agenda. The commissions were the U.S. Privacy Protection Commission (1975 to 1977); the President’s Commission on Fiscal Accountability of the Nation’s Energy Resources (1981 to 1982); U.S. Commission on Fair Market Value Policy for Federal Coal Leasing (1983 to 1984); and the President’s Commission on Privatization (1987 to 1988).

In 1982, he received the United States Public Service Award for outstanding service to the U.S. government.

Linowes was recognized as applying the same principles of fiscal efficiency and corporate social responsibility to his leadership roles in corporations, serving as chairman and CEO of Mickelberry Communications and as a member of the board of directors of Chris-Craft Industries, Piper Aircraft, Horn and Hardart Co., Saturday Review and the Work in America Institute.

Early in his career, Linowes was a leader in the accounting profession. He founded the CPA firm of Leopold & Linowes in Washington, D.C., of which he was partner and consulting partner from 1946 to 1982. He was a national founding partner of Laventhol & Horwath in New York from 1965 to 1976. He served as vice president of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and was chair of its Trial Board.

Linowes was born in Trenton, N.J., on March 16, 1917, to parents who immigrated to the United States from a part of Poland that was held under Russian rule. His father was in the fruit importing business.

Linowes was a 1941 graduate of the U. of I. and a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Beta Gamma Sigma honor societies. He supported the U. of I. Foundation with a named chair, and the foundation recognized his wide range of professional and community activities with an Alumni Achievement Award in 1989.

He completed officer candidate school after receiving his bachelor of science degree at Illinois, and served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II.

In 1963, Linowes and his wife, Dorothy, moved from Washington to Scarsdale, N.Y., where he was active with Religion in American Life. His memberships included the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C., and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Linowes is survived by his wife, three children, 13 grandchildren and two brothers; a daughter died in 1993, as did a brother, Sol Linowitz, in 2005. Three of the four Linowitz brothers changed their last names to Linowes as adults.

Funeral services were held Oct. 31 at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C. Interment was to follow at Adas Israel Congregation Cemetery, also in Washington. A shiva will be observed at Linowes’ home through Saturday.

Memorial contributions may be made to the University of Illinois Foundation, 1305 W. Green St., Urbana, IL 61801, or to Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C.