Dale E. Hathaway

Dale E. Hathaway

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Former Chair and MSU Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics

DPA., 1953. Harvard
M.S., 1948. Michigan State University
B.A., 1947. Michigan State University


Biographical Information

During a career that spanned a half century, MSU Distinguished Professor Emeritus Dale E. Hathaway won international acclaim as a scholar and practitioner of food, agriculture, and trade policy. Highly valued for his penetrating analysis and straight talk, he advised US presidents, other heads of state and other senior decision makers both in the US and abroad while continuing to inspire his many graduate students.

Born on the 100-year old family farm in Michigan, he was the first member of his family to complete his B.A. and M.A. and started his professional career as an extension specialist in public affairs at Michigan State University.  In 1952 he was awarded his doctorate in public policy from Harvard University.  Returning to MSU, he began a broad and varied academic career that included major contributions in commercial agricultural policy, international trade, foreign economic development, monetary and business cycle analysis of the agricultural sector, rural manpower and farm labor policy, and demographic and migration analyses.

He served MSU also in many other capacities.  From 1962 to 1969, he directed the graduate program in the Department of Agricultural Economics, one of the largest of its kind worldwide. Because of his reputation, he attracted graduate students from all over the world to work with him on an array of research projects. Many of those he mentored went out into the world and became authorities and leaders in their own field.   Hathaway always maintained that the success of a professor could be best judged by how far his students surpassed him.

From 1969 to 1972 he was Chairman of the Department. During his years at MSU he also served as Chairman of the Committee on the Future of the University, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Faculty, and in 1969 as Chairman of the Search and Selection Committee that obtained a new President for the University.

During his academic career, Dr. Hathaway was awarded numerous distinctions. Under Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy he was asked to serve as a senior staff economist for the President’s Council of Economic Advisors.   As visiting professor at the University of Chicago, Hathaway authored the widely used and influential Government and Agriculture: Economic Policy in a Democratic Society.   Although his work always had a large international dimension, his appointment to the Ford Foundation in 1972 made him a key player in the international development arena. His efforts at the Ford Foundation in part provided the fuel that led to then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s call at the United Nations for the first World Food Conference of 1974 and subsequently resulted in the creation of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and in Hathaway’s appointment as the founding Director General of the Institute. It is in many ways, Hathaway’s legacy that IFPRI’s unbiased analyses and advice have become much sought after in the thorny debates on food, agriculture and trade. 

Dr. Hathaway’s leadership did not stop with analysis and advice. He was also a political actor. During the Carter administration (1977 until 1981) Hathaway was Undersecretary for International Affairs and Commodity Programs in the US Department of Agriculture.  During his tenure he was the lead negotiator for agricultural trade issues during the Tokyo Round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations (1977-70) and he also had to mitigate the many unintended consequences of the US grain embargo against the then-Soviet Union.

Hathaway’s involvement in US policy affairs continued also after he had left Government.  From 1993 to 2001, he served as chairman of the official private-sector advisory group to the US Secretary of Agriculture and the US Trade Representative in their trade negotiations during the Uruguay Round that was the first attempt to address agricultural trade issues on a multilateral platform.

Between 1981 and 1994, Dr. Hathaway advised private sector organizations on international investments. From 1995 to 2001, he was with the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy (NCFAP). First as the Executive Director of the Center and later as a senior fellow, his focus was again on the analysis of food and agricultural policy issues and on new ideas that would enable the U.S. food and agricultural system to cope effectively with fundamental changes in its structure and its economic environment and the global economy.    Hathaway remained an active member of the International Food & Agricultural Trade Policy Council (IPC), from its early days in 1987 until 2005.   The organization started as a gathering of twenty-one volunteer members in Oxford, England, with a stated purpose of serving as a balanced, non-governmental group of leaders in agriculture that could enhance the policy dialogue by providing advice and counsel to governments and the interested public.

Hathaway also enjoyed keeping track of what was happening in global and US politics and participated in some of the ongoing debates. In 2005, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, he summarized his wealth of experience in a visionary seminar at IFPRI on “50 Years of Agricultural Protection: What Can We Expect from the Future?”

Dr. Hathaway is survived by his wife of 31 years, Kathleen Wilk Hathaway and the four children from his first marriage to Helen Pollack Hathaway, two granddaughters, and a great-grandson.


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