Lahiri Leads 52 from the UAlbany Community Honored for Service Milestones

Economist Kajal Lahiri at his office desk in 1978, and today
Kajal Lahiri at his office desk in 1978, and today.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 4, 2021) — To remain in the same workplace 25, 30, 40 years and more often requires many inducements along the way. Fifty-two UAlbany employees are being honored this year for their longtime service, and the one with the longest term of all lists plenty of reasons he stayed, no matter what the temptations to go elsewhere.

Distinguished Professor Kajal Lahiri of Economics, acknowledged for many years as one of the world’s leading econometricians, joins others being recognized for dedication, hard work and commitment that has contributed greatly to the University at Albany.

Back in 1975, however, after receiving his doctorate from the University of Rochester, Lahiri didn’t think he desired to live any longer in this country, let alone near the University at Albany. Going back to his native India, he took a position on the faculty of the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta. “It was the best academic job one could get, even today,” he said.

Then, his PhD advisor advised Lahiri to come to the United States for a year and finish a book with him. Though not in the job market, he applied to UAlbany and obtained an assistant professorship in January 1976. Temporary, he thought. “But once here, my continued academic success kept me going.”

In two years, he was an associate professor; in three more (1981) a full professor. Still, he fully intended to return to India. Two other factors intruded: marriage and fatherhood. “My wife certainly liked America more than I did at that time. For the next 10 years, I did not even try to get my immigrant’s visa. But by then our son was excelling at the Albany Academy in both athletics and academics . . . that is the story.”

Well, not all. He said that the University, when he was being courted by several other major universities, provided him with abundant opportunities to succeed here. Lahiri counseled agencies from the New York State budget division to the International Monetary Fund, Social Security Administration and other agencies in Washington D.C, throughout the 1980s and ’90s. He also got the chance to “live and teach in China, Australia, Italy, Germany, India and other countries for months at a time.”

Lahiri noted as well that he and his wife took advantage of the cultural, social and religious activities to be found in the Albany region’s large Indian community.

The most lasting benefit, however, said Lahiri, has come from interaction with his UAlbany colleagues and students. “I arrived when the University was in an expanding mode, and an environment of growth and support was all around.” Several other faculty from topnotch schools were hired along with him. “So, the department had a healthy competitive environment, but there was a lot of camaraderie between us. Our families became friends.”

With colleagues and PhD students alike, he published numerous papers in leading economics journals — “that kept me busy and excited here.” And he has been to date the principal advisor to 62 PhDs. “That is a very rare achievement by any standard,” he said. “Many of them have risen to very high positions in the U.S. and abroad. Unquestionably, this is my greatest achievement.”

Retirement? “We don’t ask painters or novelists when they will retire,” he said. “As a former economics faculty member once quipped, ‘Retire from what?’” He said he retains a liking for discovering new results and working on important public policy issues. He also doesn’t require “big labs,” he said. “I just need paper, pencil and a computer to work on”

All the 2021 University Service Honorees, listed below, have been sent a special celebratory message from President Rodríguez and represented divisional vice presidents:

45 Years
  • Kajal Lahiri – Economics
40 Years
  • Martin Fogelman – College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security & Cybersecurity
  • Myrna Friedlander – Counseling Psychology
  • Daniel Levy – Educational Policy & Leadership
  • Peter Recore-Migirditch – University Libraries
  • Michael Sattinger - Economics
  • Terry Spawn – Plumbing Shop
  • John Welch – Chemistry


35 Years
  • Jakov Crnkovic – Information Systems & Business Analytics
  • Michelle DiDonna – Controller
  • Bill Dosch – Facilities Management
  • Karl Kilts – Code Administration
  • Deborah King Kundert – School Psychology Program
  • Katherine Latal – University Libraries
  • Max Lifchitz – Music and Theatre
  • Carolyn MacDonald – Physics
  • Lisa Maxwell – Human Resources Management
  • Alan Topal – Information Technology Services
  • Katherine Trent – Sociology
  • Sho-Ya Wang – Biology


30 Years
  • Deborah Altrock – Equity & Compliance
  • Roger Bisbing – Art & Art History
  • Denise Carner – Center for Human Services Research
  • Glenn Deane – Sociology
  • Elba Matos – University Libraries
  • Carla Meskill – Educational Theory & Practice
  • Robert Morawski – Architecture, Engineering & Construction Management
  • James Schlemmer – Atmospheric Sciences Research Center
  • Caro-Beth Stewart – Biology
  • Ben Szaro – Biology
  • Igor Zurbenko – Epidemiology & Biostatistics


25 Years
  • Anthony DeBlasi – East Asian Studies
  • Sheryl DeCrosta – Billing & Account Maintenance
  • Colleen Faragon – Professional Development Program
  • Robert Fisher – HVAC Shop
  • Mary Gallant – Health Policy
  • Martin Hildebrand – Mathematics and Statistics
  • Daniel Hill – Professional Development Program
  • Deborah LaFond – University Libraries
  • Andrei Lapenas – Geography & Planning
  • Laurie Lieman – Professional Development Program
  • Colin Loftin – School of Criminal Justice
  • Marilyn Masson – Anthropology
  • David McDowall – School of Criminal Justice
  • Louise-Ann McNutt – Institute for Health & the Environment
  • Michelle Ray – Professional Development Program
  • Jerusalem Rivera-Wilson – Dean’s Office, School of Education
  • Helene Scheck – English
  • Latonia Spencer – Provost & VP for Academic Affairs
  • Helen Strother – Information Technology Services
  • Derek Werthmuller – Center for Technology in Government
  • Jeffrey Wright-Sedam – Art Museum