A Tribute To Svetozar "Steve" Pejovich

Feb 22, 2021
Summary:
It is with sadness that I report the passing of PERC’s former Director, Svetozar “Steve” Pejovich, on February 12, 2021. Steve Pejovich was a man who lived a full life, a man who appreciated and cherished capitalism and freedom in the special way that comes from growing up in a socialist communist state.
 
Steve was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. His life began with Nazis occupying Yugoslavia, followed by Communist rule. Steve eventually moved to the United States in 1957, then found his way to Texas.

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Steve’s education began in Yugoslavia, where he earned an L.L.B. from the University of Belgrade in 1955, and a Ph.D. in economics from Georgetown University in 1963. He taught at St. Mary’s College in Minnesota before taking a job at the University of Dallas in 1966. The following year, he joined the Department of Economics at Texas A&M University for the period 1967-1970. He then was appointed Professor at Ohio University from 1970-1975, before returning the University of Dallas as Department Head for the period 1975-1978, Dean of the Management School from 1978-1980, and Acting President from 1980-1981. In 1981, he returned to Texas A&M University as Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Free Enterprise, the original name for what is now the Private Enterprise Research Center. Steve served as the director of the Center from 1981-1990, and literally put the Center “on the map” by bringing internationally renowned economists together to discuss free market economics. After his term as Director, Steve continued in the Department of Economics as a Professor through 2002, at which point he retired as Professor Emeritus.
 
Many honors came Steve’s way. Among many others, he was a visiting scholar at Francisco Marroquin University (Guatemala), an Adjunct Scholar at the Heritage Foundation, Senior Research Fellow at ICER (Torrino, Italy), on the Templeton Honor-Rolls for Education in a Free Society, and Senior Fellow at the Goldwater Institute.
 
Steve’s research focused on property rights, free market economics, and the economics of the labor-managed firm. He published many journal articles as well as books, book chapters, and other works. Two books that received the most attention in terms of citations were “The Economics of Property Rights: Towards a Theory of Comparative Systems” in 1990, and “Economic Analysis of Institutions and Systems” in 1998.  His most cited journal publication was “Property Rights and Economic Theory: A Survey of Recent Literature” with coauthor Eric Furubotn in the Journal of Economic Literature in 1972. Another highly cited journal article was “Property Rights and Behavior of the Firm in a Socialist State: The Example of Yugoslavia,” also with Eric Furubton, in Zeitschrift fur Nationalokonomie in 1970.  
 
In the 1990’s, although retired from University life, Steve did not disappear from the public stage.  As mentioned on PERC’s website, Steve published “The New American Socialist Movement” for the Austrian Economics Center in 2020, as well as “Today’s Democratic Socialism Versus the Age-Old Version: A Comparison” on the Law & Liberty website in 2019. Steve remained a seemingly indefatigable proponent of capitalism and freedom right up to the present.
 
At Texas A&M University, Steve was a much-beloved teacher, and won the Faculty Distinguished Teaching Award from the Association of Former Students in 1987. A former student, Sheila Amin GutiĆ©rrez de PiƱeres ’88, established an undergraduate scholarship in Steve’s name, the Svetozar Pejovich Future Leaders Award.
 
Steve was instrumental in making PERC what it is today. The Center for Free Enterprise was created in 1977, and had two directors prior to Steve taking the reins in 1981. Steve’s tenure was marked by successful fundraising and by many events celebrating economic liberty and free market ideals. It is fair to say that Steve’s decade as director of the Center provided the firm foundation and reputation upon which his successors could build. Upon Steve’s resignation as Center director, one board member is quoted as saying “Dr. Pejovich has set the standard for performance and left a legacy for the next director.”
 
Steve Pejovich, you will be missed.  Thank you for your contributions to PERC, your contributions to Texas A&M University, and your contributions to the profession. But, more importantly, thank you for your ceaseless promotion of freedom, of free societies and free economies, and of the freedom of choice.

- Dennis Jansen