UC Berkeley News


Richard H. Holton

03 November 2005

Richard Holton
Richard Holton, professor emeritus and former dean at the Haas School of Business, died Monday, Oct. 24, at the age of 79 after battling cancer and Parkinson's disease. He was a leader in the fields of marketing, international business, and entrepreneurship.

A campus memorial is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Faculty Club.

Holton grew up in London, Ohio. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in economics from Miami University in Ohio in 1947, then went on to earn a master's at The Ohio State University and a doctorate at Harvard University.

He was assistant professor of economics at Harvard for four years before joining the business faculty at Berkeley in 1957. He became director of the campus Institute of Business and Economics Research in 1959 and reorganized it to reflect the growing interest in business science. His own research resulted in a steady flow of publications in marketing policies and competition.

President John F. Kennedy appointed him assistant secretary of commerce in February 1963, and he served two years before returning to Berkeley. Later appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson, he chaired the President's Consumer Advisory Council for one year. He then served from 1968 to 1972 as chairman of the Public Advisory Committee on Truth in Lending Regulations of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Holton became dean of the School of Business Administration (now the Haas School of Business) in 1967, serving until 1975. As dean, Holton initiated a system of student ratings of all business courses, a practice still used today to gauge teaching effectiveness and improve courses. He also developed the school's first curriculum for international business studies, and established in 1972 the part-time San Francisco MBA Program, forerunner of the popular Evening and Weekend MBA Program.

In 1970, Holton started a course in entrepreneurship and business development, one of the first at any business school, which over time metamorphosed into the Haas School's Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In 1981 he became dean of visiting faculty of the new National Center for Industrial Science and Technology Management Development, part of the Dalian Institute of Technology in the People's Republic of China. Between 1980 and 1992, Holton wrote many articles on the emergence of a modern, market-based economy in China, and he co-edited a book, United States-China Relations (1989).

He was awarded the Berkeley Citation in 1991, the year he retired. Even in retirement, he taught a freshman seminar, The Economic Development of Modern China.

Holton was a devoted leader of local public-interest organizations. He joined the board of directors of the Consumers Cooperative of Berkeley in the late 1950s, and his board membership with Alta Bates Hospital spanned nearly four decades. He also served on the board of the Berkeley Public Library Foundation, the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the World Affairs Council of Northern California, and Mills College.

He is survived by Constance, his wife of nearly 60 years; brother David of Washington, D.C.; daughters Melissa Holton of Moss Landing and Inverness and Jane Kriss of Inverness; son Tim of Berkeley; and three grandchildren.

The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to Doctors Without Borders, www.doctorswithoutborders.org/donate.