On Hans: A Compendium of Tributes to Dr. Hans F. Sennholz

Dr. Hans F. Sennholz
Fellow, Economic Theory & Policy
February 3, 1922–June 23, 2007


Grove City College News Release

When I came to Grove City College as president in 1996, Hans Sennholz had long concluded his legendary teaching career. In fact, he had also concluded his second career, in which he rescued the Foundation for Economic Education, and had returned to Grove City to continue his research and writing in economics. So I was able to meet and get to know, at least a little, one of the most remarkable men ever to be associated with the College.

Hans liked to say that he always asked for the largest classes so he could have the greatest impact. And he did—as he so often said, he taught at least 10,000 students during his career at Grove City. He was a hugely influential teacher, not just because of the numbers of students but because of his extraordinary teaching ability. I met many alumni during my seven years as president, and I always heard stories about his classes and the impact they had on lives. His students became highly successful in business, in academia, and in public policy institutes throughout the nation. He taught economics—specifically Austrian economics—to generations of students in his inimitable way, leaving indelible impressions in their minds, and he changed lives in the process. No teacher could ask for more.

Part of the reason for his teaching success was, I think, his insatiable curiosity about the world and its workings and his exceptional ability to bring his economics to bear on the key questions of the day. It is often said, but seldom the case, that the best researchers are the best teachers. But Hans truly exemplified this claim. His lively mind and penetrating analytical ability led him to a huge volume of writings and publications, making him widely known as one of the leading expositors of Austrian economic thought. It was because of him and his writings that Grove City College developed a national reputation as one of the few schools where Austrian economics thrived. His intellectual curiosity and unparalleled energy persisted to the very end of his life; he maintained his website and his publications to within a month of his passing.

He was not only a great teacher and writer, he was one of the most engaging and memorable individuals I have ever met. His quick intelligence, his wit, his sense of humor, his speaking ability, even his accent, all made him unforgettable. He was a true pillar of Grove City College. His contributions to the College and its reputation were enormous. He was truly one of a kind.

—John H. Moore
President, Grove City College, 1996-2003

Hans Sennholz was a GREAT teacher and influenced generations of students at Grove City College and throughout the world with his numerous public lectures. He was also a prolific author of magazine and newspaper articles and of books.

I came to know Dr. Sennholz as a student in his economics classes and his lectures still ring loudly in my ears and continue to make me think everyday. His lectures changed my life and it is no exaggeration to say that they fuel my approach to economic education to this day. “Thrift income, labor income, and entrepreneurial income;” “welfare state as a giant circle with our hands in the pockets of our neighbors;” “when the housewife adjusts her behavior to account for higher prices we have entered the last stage of inflation;” and “keep your marginal productivity above your wage and you will always be employed.” These and other phrases Sennholz used in his lectures communicated deep economic truths in easily digestable nuggets.

Sennholz was a man of deep moral conviction and never shied away from discussing the moral-philosophic principles of the private property order. It was this unique combination of a deep knowledge of economics, commitment to moral principles of a society of free and responsible individuals, and the ability to communicate in written and spoken word with students and the general public that defined Sennholz’s amazing career.

—Dr. Peter J. Boettke
BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism
at the Mercatus Center, George Mason University
& University Professor of Economics

Virtually every student of Dr. Sennholz—even as I got older, I could still never refer to him as “Hans”—carries with him two things. First, he has a treasure trove of hilarious comments and stories told by Dr. Sennholz inside or outside class. These are imparted by former students with great flourish, and always with a good or a bad imitation of Dr. Sennholz’s distinctive and long-lasting German accent. For instance, Dr. Sennholz did believe students could ask stupid questions, and he did not hesitate to inform of that, usually to great comedic effect.

But along with the fun anecdotes, most Sennholz students also carry with them deep wisdom gained from a teacher who could explain complex economic subjects in common sense and powerful ways. Moreover, Dr. Sennholz imbued or reinforced in so many students, including myself, a passionate commitment to the principles of a free society. Few teachers can say that they have changed lives. Dr. Sennholz most emphatically did. And he has left a legacy of individuals committed to furthering a free society the world over.

—Scott Bullock
Senior Attorney at the Institute for Justice, Arlington, VA
Grove City College Economics Major ’88

“Hans F. Sennholz, R.I.P.”
By Dr. Jeffrey Herbener
July 23, 2007

“The Professor, the Prankster, and the President”
By Lee S. Wishing
July 09, 2007

“Free Market Stalwart Was a Von Mises Disciple”
By Mark Skousen
July 02, 2007

“Hans Sennholz—A Personal Remembrance”
By Dr. John A. Sparks
June 26, 2007

“A Tribute to Hans F. Sennholz”
By George H. Pearson
& Lawrence W. Reed

June 25, 2007

“Reflections on Hans F. Sennholz”
By Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson
June 24, 2007