Seurat_Sunday Afternoon

Lasting Images, Lifelong Lessons

Remembering Mike Watts and Bonnie Blake

The Krannert School is saddened by the recent loss of two longtime faculty members.

Mike Watts, a professor of economics, passed away on Dec. 5, 2014. He received his PhD in economics in 1978 from Louisiana State University and joined the Krannert faculty in 1981, where he remained for 33 years.    

Watts authored 77 scholarly articles in academic journals, served as the editor of the Journal of Economic Education, won numerous awards for his teaching and was invited to share the results of his research at universities and institutions around the world.

He was particularly passionate about the teaching of economics and had served as director of the Purdue Center for Economic Education (PCEE) since 1984. He saw economics in everything, a quality best revealed in some of his recent work focusing on economics and art. He compiled hundreds of slides illustrating economic ideas in different paintings and made this collection freely available for teachers to use in their classroom instruction.

One example is Georges Seurat’s classic painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” shown above and displayed at The Art Institute of Chicago, which illustrates the concepts of income distribution, leisure and recreation.

Watts’ scholarly contributions, service, collegiality and sense of humor will be missed. To honor and recognize his extensive contributions to Purdue, the Department of Economics will award the Michael W. Watts Scholarship for Excellence in Economics, a scholarship to be given to an outstanding junior majoring in the field. 

Bonnie Blake, who served on the Krannert faculty for 20 years before retiring as a clinical professor of management communications in 2010, passed away on Nov. 17, 2014. She earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees from Purdue and was actively involved in the Faculty Fellow Program with Owen Hall for three decades.

Blake was a mainstay of the graduate program faculty and a positive force for both the school and her pupils. The numerous case competitions won by Krannert teams are a testament to her excellence in teaching students how to leverage their technical and analytical skills through improved communication.

Those wishing to honor her memory are encouraged to contribute to the Luke Commission, a nonprofit organization that delivers compassionate, comprehensive health care to the rural citizens of Swaziland, Southern Africa, as they battle the HIV/Aids and TB pandemic.