UVM mourns loss of a professor


The UVM community recently lost a long-time economics professor.

Ross Thomson, economics professor and founder of the Integrated Social Sciences Program, passed away Feb. 12.

The program is one of the four teacher-advisor programs founded in 1993, according to the College of Arts and Sciences website.

Anthropology professor and director of the ISSP, Luis Vivanco, said Thomson “was the heart, soul, and intellectual core of the Integrated Social Science Program.”

Thomson was extremely dedicated to the program, building it to one of the most important and strong programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, said Sara Solnick, chair of UVM’s economics department.

Thomson was also a member of the economics department.

As an economic historian, Thomson studied technological change in the United States and had written “extensively” on the subject, according to the College of Arts and Sciences website.

Solnick said Thomson was energetic, intelligent and caring.

“He was a great scholar and a really great teacher,” she said. “People really respected him because of those qualities.”

Thomson was wholeheartedly committed to his role as a professor of economics, spending his time connecting with his students, Solnick said.

Senior Sophie Kwass, a former ISSP student, said Thomson is the reason why she is where she is today.

“He pushed me and encouraged me to my maximum potential, which taught me so many valuable skills that I will never forget,” Kwass said.

Thomson was known by  many to go out of his way to make his students feel like they were being heard, Solnick said.

“The students loved him because he put so much energy and effort into teaching,” Solnick said.

“Sometimes you can be like, ‘I don’t have time for this right now.’ But he wasn’t like that because he genuinely cared,” she said.

His character also carried into his position as founder of the Integrated Social Sciences Program which Solnick said is an important program for the university.

“It’s so important to the college because it helps to attract really good students who want that intense intellectual experience,” Solnick said.

His dedication to the program went as far as hosting annual barbecues at his house where current and former students in the program were invited, Solnick said.

The legacy of his program has left a positive impact on many of Thomson’s former students, Kwass said.

“Students–and those of us who were his colleagues on the faculty–were fiercely devoted to this wise and gentle man,” Vivanco said.

Solnick said he was an “amazing” person.

“I think that a lot of times, when someone dies, you have a tendency to idealize them, but no — we really appreciated him and admired him when he was here,” she said.

“It’s not any kind of looking back and seeing things as better than they were; he was really, really special.”

Kwass said she feels “blessed to have had the opportunity to know him and learn from him.”