A much-loved figure and one of the most recognized faces of the University as presenter of the annual Chapman Economic Forecast, Esmael “Essie” Adibi, Ph.D., passed away April 8. He was 63.
President Jim Doti, who taught Adibi at Chapman and then became his colleague at the Anderson Center for Economic Research, called him “one of our brightest stars” and “my closest friend.”
“The power of his personality, wisdom and intellect was so much a part of our community,” Doti said. Nobel laureate Vernon L. Smith, Ph.D., a Chapman professor of economics and law, called Adibi “a unique and irreplaceable resource.”
Yet Adibi’s reach went beyond the offices of the influential.
“Part of why I attended Chapman was because of the spontaneous meeting my parents and I had with Essie when I was still in high
school,” said Mike Brown ’06, co-founder and CEO of ModBargains, a company that specializes in car modification products and services. “We were wandering around Beck- man Hall, and he invited us into his office.”
Born in Iran, Adibi received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tehran before moving to the U.S., where he earned an MBA at Chapman, an M.S. in economics from Cal State Fullerton and a Ph.D. in economics from Claremont Graduate University. He joined the Chapman faculty in 1978 and was appointed director of the Anderson Center in 1985.
Year after year, the Center forecasts have been much anticipated because of their accuracy, but also because of Adibi’s entertaining manner.
“Essie Adibi had an amazing intellect and an unparalleled ability to describe the most complex economic concepts in a way that everyone could understand,” said Reggie Gilyard, dean of Chapman’s Argyros School
of Business and Economics.
A Remembrance by Jim Doti
Since Essie Adibi’s passing, there have been things that happened where my first reaction was, “I can’t wait to tell Essie.” Then there’s that sudden, piercing realization that he’s not there. And without that special soulmate around to hear my story, give me advice or just share a laugh, life seems diminished.
I’m not alone. Essie’s passing triggered an outpouring of remembrances that reflect the depth and breadth of his impact on our lives, especially in our University community. What really stood out is that most of the remembranc- es didn’t relate directly to his brilliance as a teacher and scholar. Rather, the things people seemed to remember most were his qualities that brightened our lives and made us feel fuller and richer. Following are just a few of them:
• Professor Cristina Giannantonio, Ph.D., president of the Faculty Senate: “After my mom told him that he reminded her of her late husband (and my dad), Essie called me his daughter and my mom his other wife. That was it. A mutual admiration society was formed.”
• Edwards Lifesciences CEO Mike Mussallem: “I am so sad on many dimensions. I don’t know a man with more friends. We all not only respected him and his mind, we loved him.”
• Chapman staff member Michael Harada: “He was so caring and spent precious moments with me when my mother passed away. I once told him that if he ran for president of the United States, he would have my vote.”
Sometimes Essie and I would talk about the meaning of life. In my version, I’d use a metaphor of a carpet weaver to explore life’s meanings. This explanation resonated with Essie, I think, because it was a Persian carpet weaver.
I’d tell Essie that just as that Persian carpet weaver creates unique designs with threads and knots, we create our own designs by how we live our lives. It’s as if we are weaving designs onto our carpet.
In the weeks since his passing, I’ve thought long and hard about my 40-year friendship with Essie, and I’ve reflected on the many remem- brances I received about why he will be missed. It strikes me that of Essie’s designs on that Persian carpet, the one that had the greatest impact on us was his character. It’s that vital aspect of his life that appeared to imbue his designs with the greatest meaning and beauty.