In Memoriam

Ezra Vogel (1930–2020)

Ezra Vogel giving a talk in a lecture hall against a large computer screen

Ezra Vogel, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences Emeritus at Harvard University, passed away on December 20, 2020, at age ninety. He was the founding director of the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, and served in that capacity from 1980 to 1987. Since then, he remained an integral part of the program as honorary director. He was also a Weatherhead Center Faculty Associate from 1999–2000. In the early 1990s, he served in the Clinton administration before returning to Harvard as founding director of the Asia Center. 

Shinju Fujihira, executive director of the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, fondly remembers Vogel as an ultimate “connector” and social capitalist who would introduce seminar speakers not by their degrees or book titles but what made them brilliant—and why the audience should devote their attention to them for the hour. Vogel made people feel, Fujihira recalls, as though they were the most important person in the universe. 

For more information, read the obituary in The Harvard Gazette. The Program on U.S.-Japan Relations held an event, "Ezra Vogel in U.S.-Japan Relations: Enduring Legacies," to pay tribute to their founding director on February 2, 2021. 

Richard N. Cooper (1934–2020)

Richard Cooper speaks on a panel against a large computer screen

Richard N. Cooper, the Maurits C. Boas Professor of International Economics at Harvard University, passed away on December 23, 2020, at age eighty-six. He was a longtime Weatherhead Center affiliate—as a Faculty Associate since 1981; on the executive committee from 1981 until 2010; and as acting director of the Center for a brief stint in 1987. His four-decade tenure at Harvard was preceded by—and interspersed with—several governmental positions in the administrations of US Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton. 

Cooper was often seen holding court in the Weatherhead Center lobby, meeting with undergraduate and graduate students alike to offer advice and feedback. His commitment to teaching was indefatigable, and he taught right up until his passing. His wife, Jin Cooper, remembers him answering students’ questions in the same way as he answered the US president: seriously and thoroughly. 

For more information, read the obituary in The Harvard Crimson


  1. Ezra Vogel, a leading expert on the rise of Japan and other East Asian economies, gives a talk titled “From Sino-Japanese War (1931–1945) to Sino-Japanese Peace?” on May 11, 2007, Cambridge, MA. Credit: Dominick Reuter/Harvard University News Office
  2. Richard Cooper speaks at a Graduate School of Design forum on how collaboration in a variety of fields can improve the problems of the world on October 14, 2010. Credit: Jon Chase/Harvard University