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Krannert remembers Dean Emeritus Dennis Weidenaar

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dennis J. Weidenaar, former Dean of the Purdue Krannert Graduate School of Management and professor emeritus of Economics, died May 16, after a long illness. He was 78 years old.

Dennis was born October 4, 1936, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was a graduate of Calvin College, received his Master's Degree in Economics at University of Chicago and received his PhD in Economics from Purdue University. He was teaching at Grand Rapids Christian High School when he answered an advertisement promoting graduate economics education at Purdue. He moved to West Lafayette in 1962. He became a teaching assistant to his mentor and first Krannert Dean, Emanuel T. Weiler, with whom he later authored an economics textbook. 

He met his wife of 48 years, Kristin, at Purdue in 1964. She was a senior at Purdue when she walked into his classroom for the “Economics for Teachers” course she was required to take.  Dennis waited until the semester was complete, and then he called her sorority house to ask her on a date. They wed August 13, 1966. 

Dennis became a full-time economics instructor in 1966, served as assistant professor, associate professor, and in 1978 became full professor. He was appointed dean of the School of Management and Krannert Graduate School of Management in 1990. In 1999 he returned to teaching until he fully retired in 2005. During his tenure as dean, Dennis expanded the scope of the Krannert school to Europe and Southeast Asia and the school was ranked in the top 25 nationally and top 5 for its specialty. He was an accomplished, innovative, award-winning teacher recognized nationally for his contributions to economics education.

In addition to his distinguished career, Dennis was an active member of his community, serving at his church and on charitable organizations. Dennis was a devoted and loving husband and a role model to his two children. He is survived by his wife, Kristin; his daughter, Kaarin Puhala (spouse Michael) of Scottsdale, Arizona; his son, John Weidenaar (spouse Denise) of St Augustine, Florida; his grandchildren, Seth and Eve Puhala; and Reed and Emily Weidenaar; and his brother, Kenneth Weidenaar, of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

A Celebration of Life service will be held on June 6, 2015 at Central Presbyterian Church at 11:00 a.m. followed by a reception at the Lafayette Country Club.  

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in memory of Dennis.

A scholarship award at Purdue University has been established in recognition of Dennis’ innumerable contributions to the field of Economics and his passion for the students he served.  Memorial contributions may be donated to the scholarship fund. Checks may be made payable to Purdue Foundation and sent to the Office of Advancement; Krannert School of Management; 403 West State Street; West Lafayette, IN 47907.

Donations may also be made in memory of Dennis Weidenaar to the Alzheimer’s Association to help fight Alzheimer’s disease through research and provide support services. Donations may be contributed at