The University Record, April 5, 1999

Louis A. Ferman

Louis A. Ferman, professor emeritus of social work and a well-known labor expert, died of stomach cancer March 25 in Ann Arbor. He was 72.

Ferman, also research scientist emeritus at the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations (ILIR), was widely regarded as the “father of informal economy research.” The author of more than 50 publications, his work focused on the human problems of industrial societies, including unemployment, poverty, racial discrimination, plant closings, job training for the hard to employ, and the informal, or irregular (“off-the-books”), economy.

“Lou was an insightful and highly productive scholar,” said Larry Root, professor of social work and ILIR director. “He had the ability to get to the heart of an issue, addressing the human side of employment issues without losing objectivity. He also played a key role in the research activities of ILIR, creating an environment that fostered innovative research in the field.”

Ferman joined ILIR as a full-time research associate in 1963 and a year later was named research director, a position he held until his retirement in 1993. He also taught in the School of Social Work for nearly 30 years, beginning as an associate professor in 1964 and becoming a full professor in 1967. Prior to coming to the U-M, he taught at Wayne State and Oakland universities.

Born June 11, 1926, in Fall River, Mass., Ferman served in World War II with the Occupational Forces in Japan, under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. He received a bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1952, a master’s from Boston University in 1953 and a doctorate from Cornell University in 1961.

He is survived by two sons, Daniel E. Ferman of Cincinnati, Ohio, and John Ferman of Ann Arbor; a sister and brother-in-law, Ruth and Ben Davidson of Fall River, Mass.; and two grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association or charity of your choice. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. April 16 in the Kuenzel Room, Michigan Union. For more information, call Carol Kent, 763-1187.

From News and Information Services


Leave a comment

Commenting is closed for this article. Please read our comment guidelines for more information.