Thomas Kershner, associate professor of economics emeritus, is being remembered for his broad intellectual interests, his mentorship and his accessibility. He passed away at his home in Saratoga Springs on June 19, 2021. He was 79.
He joined the College in 1968 as an instructor of economics and became assistant professor after completing his Ph.D. in 1972. He became associate professor with tenure in 1974. He chaired Economics from 1973 to 1981, during which he recruited faculty members Bruce Reynolds, Shelton Schmidt, Bradley Lewis and J. Douglass Klein.
When Klein first visited campus during a bitterly cold January in 1979, Kershner hosted him and his wife at his home. “I have always appreciated the warm welcome he offered and the ways he helped me become part of the Union community,” Klein said.
Before he joined Union in 1979, Lewis was on the traveling audit team for GE. When he was in Schenectady for a quarter, he took an economic forecasting course with Kershner. After Lewis earned his Ph.D., Kershner called him and convinced him to come to Union and Schenectady.
“He was an excellent recruiter,” Lewis said. “He looked for candidates who had been in small colleges as undergrads and gone on to highly-ranked grad departments. [Union] was very strong and, to me, very interesting.” Kershner also supported and encouraged his colleagues to get involved with faculty governance, Lewis said.
John Denio ’76 was an interdepartmental major in civil engineering and economics with a busy schedule as a student athlete in soccer and basketball. He recalls Kershner attending games and welcoming him and others at his home. “He treated everyone equally,” Denio recalled. “He was never that professor on a pedestal.”
Kershner was “remarkably down to earth” and took time to know students outside of class, said Denio, who retired in 2015 to complete a career as coach, professor and dean of students at the Albany College of Pharmacy. Denio said his interest in academe “had a lot to do with how professors [like Kershner] dealt with me as a student.”
Kershner coordinated the Achilles Rink project from 1974 to 1976, and served as interim director of athletics from 1975 to 1977. He became a research professor from 1993 until he retired in 1997, which allowed him to do consultancy work.
With some Union colleagues, he started Kennerman Associates, an economic forecasting firm that determined losses for deceased or injured individuals including victims of the 9/11 attacks. The firm, later renamed Kershner Grosso &Co., expanded into investment management.
He earned his A.B. from Oakland University; and his master’s and Ph.D. from Harvard University.
Survivors include his wife, Christine Rowe-Button; and daughters, Jennifer Moreau and Kim Ferrie.