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Former faculty remembered in wake of December deaths

The University lost two of its best-remembered former faculty members over winter break with the deaths of labor economist Richard Lester GS '36 and religion professor Malcolm Diamond.

Lester, who was 89 when he died Dec. 30, served as the first dean of the faculty from 1969 to 1973. In that role, he chaired the committee that drafted the University's first affirmative-action program.


The prominent labor economist's work at the University began in 1945 as an associate professor. Lester's most famous research involved wage determination and minimum wages through his development of the "range theory of wages." He was also the author of two textbooks.

Lester served several terms as chairman of the economics department, and as director of the Wilson School's graduate program from 1966 to 1968.

"He was one of the leading economists of his generation," said economics professor Alan Krueger, who worked with Lester in industrial relations research. "He was an intellectual advocate, not an idealogue, and he was very open-minded in how he approached research."

"He was widely regarded as a real gentleman, a very dignified, scholarly person," Krueger added.

Religion scholar

Diamond died Dec. 27 at the age of 73. He retired from teaching in 1992, after guiding hundreds of undergraduates through introductory religion courses.

"He'll be remembered as one of the most beloved teachers Princeton ever had," religion department chairman Jeffrey Stout GS '76 said. "He was the teacher who convinced his students that (their) ideas were worthwhile."


In recognition of his teaching, Diamond won the national E. Harris Harbison Award for Gifted Teaching in 1970. "He had a way of helping students fall in love with the subject," said Stout, who had Diamond as a graduate-studies adviser at the University. "Students could tell he cared about them."

Diamond's scholarly work focused on religious existentialism, and he specialized in the religious philosophy of Martin Buber. From 1981 until his death, Diamond also worked as a family therapist and marriage counselor.

Lester also worked outside the University, applying his expertise in labor economics to public policy. He arbitrated national wage disputes in 1954 and 1960, advised President John Kennedy '39 and served on New Jersey state commissions.

A memorial service for Diamond is planned for Feb. 8. One is also slated in February for Lester, though no date has been set.

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In addition to Diamond and Lester, the former chairman of the Institute for Advanced Study, J. Richardson Dilworth, also died over winter recess.

Dilworth, who was 81 when he died on Dec. 31, served as chairman of the center ? where many University faculty members perform research ? from 1981 to 1986. He was an institute trustee from 1964 to 1986 and its president from 1970 to 1981.

"He really understood the academic setting," Institute Associate Director Rachel Gray said. "He provided critical and thoughtful leadership."